All Things Soldier: The S.E.A.L.S, Somalia, And Mother’s Day

5-17-2013 4-06-18 PMI am just back from a truly memorable Mother’s Day Weekend. I had the privilege of attending the graduation ceremony of a young woman who is like family to us, and she happened to be the first person in her family to graduate from college. She has a bright future ahead, and I have no doubt she will one day become a wonderful wife and mother, and will celebrate many happy Mother’s Days.

While I was eating my breakfast in the hotel lobby, I was given a “Mother’s Day gift” courtesy of CBS. It was an interview with Jessica Buchanan, an aid worker who was rescued last January in Somalia by the same S.E.A.L. team that took out Osama Bin Laden. I know that it might be odd to think of learning about a successful S.E.A.L operation as a gift, but while in Iraq I had the indescribable privilege of living amongst them for 16 months. Consequently they as a whole new bevy of friends and sons won my heart forever. They are my heroes, and hearing what they did for a little blond aid worker and her Danish colleague made me want to weep and holler, right there while eating my grits.

5-17-2013 4-06-09 PMBy way of background, Jessica Buchanan was in Somalia with the specific task of helping Somalian children detect the presence of and avoid land mines. On the way back from the village, she was kidnapped, and their captors were asking 45 million dollars for their ransom. Jessica thought she was going to be raped, then be killed, and had no expectation of living through the ordeal, let alone be rescued by the S.E.A.L.S. Her ordeal lasted for 93 days, during which time she became ill, vomiting violently, and laying for days on the desert floor, rolled up in a fetal position. And one of the toughest things for her was the idea that it looked like she would never become a mother.

The moment came when they came to her rescue, and while what they do is so often the stuff of legends, this remarkably tender and protective move I am about to describe makes it difficult to write this piece dry-eyed. The S.E.A.L.S. had killed the captors and waited for the chopper to arrive and complete the extraction. Then they heard a sound, possibly indicating the presence of more enemies bent on Jessica’s harm. They asked her to lie down on the ground, made a circle around her, and then carefully lay down on top of her to protect her. They stayed there until the helicopter arrived. She ran to it, they tucked her in, gave her a folded American flag, and they were gone. She never saw their faces, never got to thank each of them personally, and they left on a separate transport.

She choked back tears as she spoke of their gentleness with her, the fact that they would have taken a bullet for her, and that at that moment she was never prouder to be an American. Her Danish co-worker said that he was lucky to have been kidnapped with an American.

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And Miss Jessica? She came back to the States, and she and her husband now have a baby. Because of the S.E.A.L.S. Jessica Buchanan is now a mother, and because of CBS and the S.E.A.L.S., my Mother’s Day was even better.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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