Peter Kassig. His name is the latest in an ever-growing list of captives that ISIS has threatened to murder. And we have every reason to believe that they will carry out this threat.
Kassig’s name caught my attention not because I immediately recognized it, but because he was reported as being a former Army Ranger. Curiosity got the best of me and I decided to skim some of the content to see if the story had any validity. That was when I saw it- a picture that sent my heart racing and then dropping down into what felt like the pit of my stomach. I knew that face, and now I recognized the name. Kassig was there when I was there.
Peter Kassig was a fire support team member- a FISTer- in Alpha Company 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment sometime between 2005 and 2008. I don’t remember much else about him, but he was there, and that makes him a brother. Now I’m not just scrolling, I’m reading. Every article, every video, every post, every comment. A brackish tide of emotions mainly consisting of fear, anger, and hopelessness is all the while washing through me.
We’ve got to get him out. We’ve got to get him home. What do I need to do? What can I do? Much of the online conversation about Kassig is filled with calls to action from salty veterans talking up the idea of putting a private team together. Yeah, that’s it. We’ve got to put a team together. Then it hits me. There’s one enormous, glaring problem with that course of action, it’s called…reality.
We veterans don’t know exactly where he’s being held, we don’t have the money, we don’t have the resources, it’s been years since most of us have labored under the yoke of war and have therefore grown soft with age and disuse. The cruel, harsh reality is that even if we had the funds and the physical prowess, we’d never be able to put a team together in time to save him.
What now? Well, even though we veterans have long since turned in our time cards, there are still the active ministers of death who still labor under the burden of full kit and hold the memory of how a rucksack bites into your shoulders in recent memory. Their bags are still packed, and for some, a simple trip to the ready room, a quick pre-combat inspection, and a short walk to a small black helicopter would put them where they need to be to act. Well that’s a viable solution, so where’s the rub on that one? Unfortunately, it lies with the fact that I have very little faith that our current administration would act even if they had all of the proper intel. We can’t let loose the dogs of war if their master never takes off their muzzle.
I don’t know what to do. It seems from where I sit that the only thing I can do is write about it in hopes that the message gets spread far enough, fast enough that the right people with the right resources are motivated to act. Otherwise all I can do is pray. I’ll pray that our administration does the right thing. I’ll pray that this whole situation has a storybook ending that will one day be made into a feel-good movie.
But I’ll also pray that the Lord gives Kassig the peace, strength and courage in what could turn out to be his final hours. If this is to be his last stand, let him make such a stand that he is not easily forgotten, that he will uphold the honor and prestige of the Regiment, and that his sacrifice will rally others into action against the evil that is ISIS.
Lastly, I feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t address some of the comments that have been posted to Facebook underneath the story on Pete Kassig that Havok Journal and Blackside Concepts posted last night.
Veteran “Enter Your Name Here” that wants to belittle Peter Kassig for being over there in the first place. Veteran “Making Yourself Feel Like A Big Man” that wants to scoff at his motives and claim that there are plenty of people in this country that need help, so why couldn’t he just stay here. Veteran “More Mouth Than Balls” that wants to call Pete Kassig, my Ranger brother, a dumbass and say that he’s getting what he deserves. How dare you!
Once upon a time you yourself signed a contract to be a part of something that was so much bigger than yourself. The fact that you, who are the ultimate hypocrite, would scorn a man who risks his life for the sake of altruism just to inflate your pompous sense of superiority sickens me. Your argument that there are plenty of people here that need our help is completely invalid until the ravages of war make its way onto your doorstep. Until the day that refugees who have been driven out of their homes arrive at your home crying, bleeding, and starving, while barely clinging onto life, maybe you can dig deep and find the intestinal fortitude to shut your mouth and stay in your lane.
At least Pete Kassig had the guts to put his body where his mouth is, and do what he thought was right; that’s a hell of a lot better than waxing nostalgic behind a keyboard from the safey of your own home, trying to tear down better men than you just because they had the guts to try.
Rangers Lead The Way. Godspeed, Pete Kassig, my Ranger brother.
Originally appeared on The Havok Journal.