Pensacola, Florida
Saturday August 24th 2019

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Outtakes—Celebrating Decorated Veterans

By Rick Outzen

The recent treatment of Robert Mueller by Republican lawmakers, particularly by our Congressman Matt Gaetz, has bothered me. The relentless assault on the decorated war hero’s character and the subsequent gloating by Gaetz and others after his testimony were some of the worst displays of political grandstanding in recent memory.

Trial lawyers have a saying, “When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the law is on your side, pound the law. When neither is on your side, pound the table.” The table our congressman chose to pound was Mueller.

As a Marine Corps platoon leader during the Vietnam War,  Mueller received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal and Vietnam Service Medal with four service stars. He rose to the level of captain, and the Army Rangers inducted him into their Hall of Fame.

His service should have earned some modicum of respect from Rep. Gaetz and his gaggle. However, Gaetz wasn’t happy that the former FBI director might undermine the White House’s narrative that the document completely exonerated Trump.

To disagree with the findings of the Mueller is understandable in today’s partisan political worlds, but our decorated military veterans deserve more respect than Mueller was shown.

Gaetz’s grandstanding reminded me of Trump’s attacks on another military hero, Sen. John McCain. Months after the former POW’s death, the president continued to berate McCain. Gaetz defended Trump, calling his rage “reasonable” because the late senator allegedly had to “stick it to the president” when he voted against repealing Obamacare.

I wish I could call Bud Day about Gaetz’s political attacks on war heroes. Colonel Day, who died in 2013, earned over 70 awards, decorations and medals and is widely considered to be the most decorated airman in history. He was also a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War and a cellmate of McCain. Day campaigned vigorously for McCain in 2008.

Gaetz appeared to respect Day’s service when he helped open The Bud and Dorie Day Patriots’ Trail in Fort Walton Beach in 2015. Then-State Rep. Gaetz said, “I can’t think of a more worthy cause, a more worthy priority than honoring our great heroes … We know how to celebrate our heroes.”

Shouldn’t Mueller and McCain also be honored and celebrated?

In 2007, our newspaper covered a ceremony for Judge Patterson Maney, who was returning to the bench after serving in Afghanistan. Of Maney overcoming his war injuries, Day said, “There’s a much bigger issue than our personal problems, and that’s our contributions to freedom.”

Mueller and McCain deserve our gratitude and respect for their contributions to freedom, too.