Six years after she witnessed 38 souls, of which thirty were America’s finest, needlessly perish in Afghanistan when a Taliban soldier hit an aging Chinook helicopter with a Rocket Propelled Grenade, (RPG) she can no longer remain silent—confidentiality be damned!
Joni Marquez, a decorated Air Force Captain was the Fire Control Officer aboard an AC-130 Gunship above the scene. The AC-130 was flying in the dangerous Tangi Valley, in the Wardak Province, providing close-in air support in that special way only the AC-130 can, for the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment that had come under fire by eight Taliban insurgents that were heavily armed.
Eight insurgents, no matter how heavily armed, do not typically require an AC-130 Gunship to dump a million dollars worth of lead on top of them, so the Rangers requested some assault helicopters to terminate the insurgents, that were hiding in the rocky valley.
When the helicopters got on site, they wasted no time locating the insurgents and loading them up with some hot lead.
The helicopter pilots thought they had sent the insurgents to paradise, where they would find out there were no virgins left. (Seriously, the Marines have been over there 15 years now… No one really thinks there are any virgins remaining now do they? LOL)
Capt. Marquez was serving as the AC-130’s Fire Control Officer, that was still circling above, and had the sensor operators immediately lock on to the insurgents the helicopters just took out. The sensors can detect heat and they were able to determine that two insurgents were still alive.
When Capt. Marquez noticed that the two insurgents were starting sneak off crawling away from the area the others had been killed, she passed the info on to the ground force commander and requested permission to engage… They were denied!
That decision by the ground commander sealed the fate of those involved in Extortion 17 according to Capt. Marquez.
Capt. Marquez and her crew watched as the two insurgents made their way to a local village and then go door-to-door rounding up more fighters.
The AC-130 Gunship made several request to the Joint Operations Center for permission to engage, but they were continually denied.
At some time while all this was going on, Extortion 17, which was the call sign for the Chinook helicopter carrying a total of 38 warriors on board, was called in to support the Rangers. The 38 warriors consisted of 17 Navy SEALS from SEAL Team 6, many who had been part of the operation that killed Bin Laden, 17 other American Warriors, and 8 Afghanistan Special Operators.
Capt. Marquez the Joint Operations Center several times to turn back Extortion 17 and abort their mission, but the higher command just ignored them, instructing them to find a good helicopter landing zone.
As their warnings were ignored, the crew of the AC-130 Gunship watched the Chinook move into the Taliban’s crosshairs and take a direct hit from an RPG. Capt. Marquez watched as one of them was ejected from the wreckage and watched the heat gradually leave the body indicating the SEAL had died.
The video below is an in depth interview of Capt. Marquez detailing the events of that night that led to the death of all those aboard Extortion 17. Many questions remain about that night and the official investigations have produced no results.
Capt. Marquez blames the restrictive Rules of Engagement by the Obama administration in large part for the death of all those aboard Extortion 17. Had those in command on scene been permitted to make the decision to engage based on the facts in front of them, Capt. Marquez would have had the two Taliban insurgents terminated before they escaped to recruit more fighters.
I am no fan of Hussein’s, but since the Vietnam war, every administration has been reluctant to empower the troops being shot at the authorization to make that decision when and when not to engage the enemy.
When the Marine’s first landed in Beirut on their so called “Peace Keeping Mission” in 1982, they could not even place a loaded magazine in their weapon, unless they took direct fire that could be identified as direct fire directed at them. When the truck carrying the equivalent of 21,000 pounds of TNT was speeding toward the two Marines manning the entrance to the Marine Barracks, they were unable to even get one shot off because of the delay that caused.
President Trump is said to be leaving the war fighting decision up to the military, which is how it should be.
Please share this Extortion 17 story by Capt. Marquez so that this is not just another cover up… These warriors who gave their lives and their families deserve JUSTICE! I would also encourage you to contact your elected representatives and insist they seek the truth behind what happened to Extortion 17… Why were 38 Special Operators on board ONE helicopter? Please help do your part!
Thank you for supporting my blog… I really do appreciate all of you who take the time to read what I write and support me… God Bless… SemperFi, ~SGT A~