When his unit was ambushed in Vietnam, Alfred Rascon didn’t stop to think. He threw himself into the line of fire and got most of his friends out safe.
Rascon recounts his work in Vietnam.
Alfred Rascon is the recipient of the military’s highest achievement, the Medal of Honor, but when he spoke to the crowd at Newsweek & The Daily Beast’s Hero Summit on Thursday, he said his actions weren’t heroic at all, he was just looking out for his friends.
“There’s nothing heroic about this, it’s the fact that you have to go out and take care of those that were injured, just like they would for you,” he said.
Rascon, a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Mexico, joined the army as a medic when he was 17. In 1966, he was working as a medic with his platoon in the Long Khanh Province of Vietnam when his unit came under attack. As soon as men became injured, Rascon—nicknamed “Doc” Rascon by his friends—jumped into medic mode, risking his life in the line of fire to revive his friends and at times throwing himself in front of hand grenades in order to shelter them.
“You’re afraid,” Rascon said of the attack. “Anyone who says you aren’t afraid, something is wrong with them.”
Rascon was shot from the hip through his shoulder and hit by hand grenades over four times, once directly to his face. “I thought I was going to die, I didn’t know how much face wounds bled,” he said.
United Civil Front Chairman Garry Kasparov is interviewed by Eli Lake, Newsweek & The Daily Beast's Senior National Security Correspondent. See live tweets from their discussion on defying Vladmir Putin's government, Pussy Riot and the dissidents fighting for "the other Russia."
A "renegade diplomat" says it's time for Washington to consider the price of its wars.
Weston on his book and why the U.S. needs to take a look in the mirror.
Newsweek and The Daily Beast's Hero Summit opened Thursday with a rousing bugle call, followed by a sobering account from a former State Department official about life after war.
J. Kael Weston, who spent seven years with the State Department in Iraq and Afghanistan as a "renegade diplomat" working alongside U.S. Marines, said it's time for Washington to look itself in the mirror, much as a wounded soldier does after returning home from war with a new face.
"I do believe there are heroes out of these wars," he said. "I just don't see a lot of heroes in Washington—I could talk for hours about that. I'm not pointing fingers at anyone in the government. I think we owe it to our guys to look into the mirror."
Weston, speaking with Washington Post correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran, said he feels the nation's capital needs to become more reflective on its reasons for going to war, and to be sure that the reasons warrant the sacrifice. He recalled a group of mullahs asking him "on a windy hilltop" in Afghanistan, "Why did you invade Iraq?" He wants to hear policymakers ask themselves those questions, he said.
J. Kael Weston spent seven years with the State Department in Iraq and Afghanistan.
What have we learned after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan? That guns and drones will never be enough to save a country. Ideas from the Hero Summit for rebuilding the world.
Harman calls for more humility in government.
How do you wage war in a foreign country, and leave it a peaceful place where the kids have a future and they don’t hate America?
That was among the questions posed at the Hero Summit on Thursday during a panel discussion on how the U.S. can embrace a more humanitarian approach to warfare.
Jane Harman, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center, said the key is reaching the “young kid in the boonies and convincing him to not put on a suicide vest.”
Philip Mudd, a former CIA analyst and now a global advisor at Oxford Analytica, said that “when we speak, we ought to act the same way we speak. If we support democracy, that’s not Hosni Mubarak.”
Jim Hake, founder of Spirt of America, said “word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing you can get.”
As the wars wind down, a former State Department official who spent seven years in Iraq and Afghanistan talks about his return to a disengaged Washington and to a disconnected America.
Who do rock stars look up to? Newspaper columnists, if you're U2's Bono. Nicholas Kristof, described by Bono as his 'hero,' reveals the causes that have brought him and the Irish rocker together.
From Adm. William McRaven to columnist Nicholas Kristof to Bono, WATCH VIDEO of the summit’s must-see moments.
Tina Brown: True Heroism Isn't Flashy
Newsweek & The Daily Beast’s editor in chief launched the summit by honoring the heroes in attendance. In the wake of a divisive presidential election and a widening gap between the military and civilians, Brown stressed that heroism is a paradox that requires both leadership and selflessness. “One thing that every hero said who we invited to join us at this summit," she noted: ‘Don’t call me a hero. I’m not a hero.’”
Did McRaven Ever Doubt the Bin Laden Raid? No.
The master interviewer joins political columnist Michelle Cottle to answer questions about the Petraeus scandal, the killing of Bin Laden, and what he sees ahead for 'CBS This Morning.'
The crew of the flying ambulance known as DUSTOFF 73, recently profiled in Newsweek, discusses how fear, even for them, is never absent—it just needs to be managed.
War is hell, but it’s a lot less deadly thanks to the DUSTOFF crews: two pilots, a technician and a medic—the only people on the front lines whose mission is simply to save lives. For them, heroism is the job description.
The DUSTOFF 73 crew recounts their courageous missions.
The crew of DUSTOFF 73 just left the stage. Their interview with Martha Raddatz, Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent for ABC News, ran through the high points of their mission in eastern Afghanistan last summer, one of the most decorated missions in the history of aviation. Sixty hours in combat. Fourteen lives saved. But as the coauthor of the Newsweek cover story that accompanied their piece, I have a few things to add before they leave our thoughts for the evening.
First, many people’s image of heroism is rooted in extraordinary acts—the one-time sacrifice, the unusual feat at just the right moment. But the military finds a way to routinize everything else, so why not heroism, too? The result is the Army’s elite air ambulance unit, a squadron of Blackhawk helicopters stripped down and converted into flying emergency rooms. They’re known as DUSTOFFs—one of the more apt military call signs—and for nearly every soldier wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan, they arrive like guardian angels, starting patients on a conveyor belt of care that has pushed the wounded survival rate unthinkably high, past 90 percent. War is still hell, but it’s a lot less deadly thanks to the DUSTOFF crews: two pilots, a technician, and a medic—the only people on the front lines whose mission is simply to save lives. For them, heroism is the job description.
But even here, there are some efforts that are extraordinary—and DUSTOFF 73 was exactly that. The crew came out Fort Drum, N.Y., and last summer in eastern Afghanistan it flew into the annals of history. But in talking to all four crew members exclusively for this issue, I was struck by how their heroism had become habit, something that almost seems learned. I expected adrenaline junkies or war cowboys, but instead found four regular people susceptible to the same fears and doubts as anyone else. The difference? They’re extraordinarily practiced at finding that emotional dial inside and turning it way, way down. They put their fear on mute when lives are on the line.
Apache helicopters create a ring of protective fire around medevac missions like DUSTOFF 73. (Department of the Army)
It’s an extraordinary skill for anyone, but especially significant for Sgt. Julia Bringloe, the medic on board DUSTOFF 73. Five years ago, she joined the Army, at age 35, hoping to leap out of a deadening career in Hawaii, and then suddenly she was among the only women on the front lines. Women remain officially banned from serving in infantry or commando positions, but earlier this year, in a historic shift, the Marines and Army moved to integrate women into other near-combat roles. Meanwhile, women like Julia have been taking fire routinely for years. She rescues the same men she’s forbidden to fight alongside, and she never seems to flinch. “It’s a job, not a gender,” she likes to say. The military would do well to realize that.
The commander of U.S. Special Operations Command called Petraeus “an American hero,” reports Eli Lake.
Charlie Rose talks with Adm. McRaven.
The man who commanded and devised the raid that killed Osama bin Laden said David Petraeus—who resigned Friday as director of the CIA after acknowledging an extramarital affair—was “the finest general” he had ever served under.
Speaking at The Hero Summit, presented by Newsweek & The Daily Beast, Admiral William McRaven, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, called Petraeus an “American hero” who made thousands of decisions that saved lives as a commander of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He added: “I obviously don’t condone what he did because Holly Petraeus is also an American hero.”
McRaven’s remarks were one of the first public comments from an elite U.S. military leader on the biggest scandal to hit the CIA under the Obama administration. His comments suggest Petraeus will maintain influence within the military—where he spent his career before retiring as a four-star general to become director of the CIA.
Navy Adm. William McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, testifies during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on "The U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command in review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2013 and the Future Years Defense Program" on Tuesday, March 6, 2012. (Bill Clark / Getty Images)
Inside the military, adultery is a serious charge. It can lead to demotion and other penalties. Colleagues of Petraeus say his affair with Paula Broadwell, a former military intelligence officer and the former general’s biographer, began after he began his job at the agency.
Newsweek and The Daily Beast host the first annual Hero Summit. See live photos, tweets and more.
Editor-in-chief Tina Brown kicks off the inaugural summit.
Wednesday evening at 7 p.m., watch live as Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown debuts The Hero Summit: An Exploration of Character and Courage, a two-day gathering presented by Newsweek & The Daily Beast.
The invitation-only event, Wednesday and Thursday in Washington D.C., will be streamed live and in full at The Daily Beast. Visit The Hero Summit 2012 page to see the full schedule and list of speakers—including Adm. William McRaven, Madeleine K. Albright, Garry Kasparov, Bono, and Aaron Sorkin—and for all of our reporting, social media buzz (@herosummit and #hero12) and exclusive interviews from the summit.
The hundreds of thousands of other military spouses who stand by their loved ones as they fight, move bases, and take part in an unusual culture. Army wife Bethanne Patrick on the unsung and noble plight of the military’s spouses.
The recent Veterans Day weekend has been overlaid by a scandal hanging over one of our veterans, the much-lauded Gen. David Petraeus, whose resignation as director of the Central Intelligence Agency comes after admitting to an extramarital affair, reportedly with Paula Broadwell, his biographer. Like Petraeus, Broadwell is a graduate of the United States Military Academy. Like Petraeus, Broadwell is a married parent of two.
Holly Petraeus looks on as her husband, David Petraeus, testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 23, 2011. (Cliff Owen / AP Photo)
Neither one of them has ever been a dependent military spouse.
I’m talking about “Army wives” and Army husbands, too—meaning those of us who do not take oaths of military service, but who do stand by our men and women. While we honor our servicemen and women, we often forget that many service members marry men and women who do not themselves wear a uniform but must live by the oaths their spouses take. Even though Hollister “Holly” Knowlton Petraeus grew up as “West Point royalty” (her father, Gen. William Knowlton, was the superintendent of the United States Military Academy during Petraeus’s years as a cadet), when she said “I do,” she gave up her own dreams and began following his.
You might wonder how this is different from a person who marries a doctor or any professional whose career requires moves from place to place. I can tell you that it is, because I am a military spouse: Few other marriages involve a beige Dependent Spouse ID card that is necessary for everything from grocery shopping at the post commissary to emergency-room care at any hospital. From my own personal experience as the wife of a West Point cadet, I can tell you that the indoctrination starts early: If you are married in a traditional military ceremony, after your saber arch has formed and you’ve walked through it, the last person will turn his saber flat, whack you on the backside, and yell “Welcome to the Army, Mrs. Patrick!”
The assumption is, from the moment the vows are finished, that a military spouse will “fall in” with whatever her spouse’s career needs. The old joke is that “If the Army wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued you one;” in other words, you’re expendable, and might be troublesome. Women whose love for a soldier transcends their discomfort with field conditions were once known as “camp followers.” Over time, the military adjusted. Pensions were granted to war widows, housing was added to posts and bases, and services provided for the children of military marriages (although the appellation “brats” has never left them). The military is still adjusting, of course, and Holly Petraeus has been an amazing part of that change in her efforts to help families learn more about their consumer rights.
See who’s attending and what’s on tap at the October 10 event in Washington, D.C.
No to Syria. Army veteran Brian Van Reet argues against intervention.
This map, created by the Center for Investigative Reporting, displays 58 VA regional offices and the number of backlogged claims by week on a national, regional and local level. This application will update itself every Monday to show each office's change in pending claims.
From Adm. William McRaven to columnist Nicholas Kristof to Bono, WATCH VIDEO of the summit’s must-see moments.