In 1979, Glenn Jones was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran. Glenn was a friend of mine. We served together in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and shared many adventures together.
After our terms of service ended, we moved in different directions and I didn’t hear from him again for decades. We linked up after 9/11, and I learned that Glenn was in Iran at the beginning of the hostage crisis. Only fate kept him from being one of the hostages held for 444 days by Iranian terrorists. His family had gone on leave to Greece where he joined them shortly before the embassy takeover. Watching a news broadcast as the Iranian revolution unfolded, he saw a mob emptying his apartment of all of his family’s personal belongings. Glenn decided not returning to Iran was probably a good idea, thereby missing an extended stay as a “guest” of the Ayatollah.
Likewise, my wife Roberta’s good friend, Sharon, also of Atascadero, was present in the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983 when that embassy was bombed. Sharon was decorated by the Secretary of State for her actions in saving American lives after that attack.
The common link between the two incidents was in neither case did America hold anyone accountable. Terrorists were never hunted down. No government was required to pay a price for the murder of more than 300 Americans in three separate attacks. The Iranians were never held accountable for the illegal seizure of our embassy nor for holding our citizens hostage. Weakness invites attacks, and failure to respond demonstrates weakness. Over the next two decades, U.S. personnel were continuously attacked and murdered while serving in overseas posts, including CIA station chiefs, military personnel, ships, embassies and civilians. Eventually mass attacks occurred in which hundreds and eventually thousands were killed.
Last month, a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were murdered. For a month, the government has circulated different stories about how and why the attack occurred. We now know that embassy personnel desperately pleaded for more security and were turned down. We know there was no demonstration about a video before the attack. We know that multiple attacks on the consulate occurred in the months preceding the attack. We know that a firefight lasting hours occurred, involving heavy crew-served weapons and an organized attack. Yet our government continues to dissemble, refusing to admit accountability or responsibility as they attempt to deflect blame upon anyone but those ultimately charged with authority and responsibility for every act of commission and omission.
When Americans die overseas in the service of their country, small towns such as Atascadero produce heroes like Sharon, friends like Glenn. They usually serve in silence and depend upon all of us to also do our duty. Some of you are voting early this month, while others will wait until November. Whenever you vote, remember the service of those in distant lands keeping you secure in your homes. Don’t reward arrogance in power by politicians who refuse to hold themselves accountable.
Al Fonzi is a retired Army Lt. Colonel and career intelligence officer with more than 30 years of service. He is a self-described conservative and active in several political organizations. Fonzi first moved to Atascadero in 1972.For the complete article see the 10-17-2012 issue.
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