Nothing written in today’s column could lessen the pain Staff Sgt. Sky Mote’s family has experienced. The loss of a loved one is hard. But losing a son in the prime of his life must be unbearable.
Sgt. Mote’s death brings a distant military campaign closer to home. It reminds us of nine long years spent fighting a war in Afghanistan against an enemy determined to pursue its own radical beliefs.
I doubt when this young man graduated from Union Mine High School in 2003 he had any idea of the impact his life (and death) would have on El Dorado County. I also doubt those graduating alongside him that day have even come close to matching his achievements.
The outpouring of support from thousands as our local hero’s body returned home was heartwarming.
Seeing throngs of people waving American flags along the highway, on display at Sky Mote’s funeral service Sunday, and hanging on the schoolyard fence of Blue Oak Elementary School nearby gave some semblance that this was a loss shared by more than the Mote family. This was a loss shared by everyone.
Staff Sgt. Mote was deployed for both Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. He was decorated with the Purple Heart, a Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal, a Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal, two Combat Action Ribbons and three Good Conduct Medals.
He was killed along with Capt. Matthew P. Manoukian 29, of Los Altos, Calif., and Gunnery Sgt, Ryan Jeschke, 31 of Herndon, Va., by an Afghan policeman in what is referred to as a green-on-blue attack. This occurs when a western service member is killed by a member of the Afghan national security forces.
The loss of one life isn’t justification for changing the direction of any military campaign. However, with the killing of Osama Bin Laden on May 2, 2011, I’d say our mission in Afghanistan is beyond finished.
It’s long time to let the Afghan people fend for themselves. If they choose to be governed by the Taliban, Muslim Brotherhood, or some other local tribal leader then that’s their decision. If they want their women hidden behind burkas let them. If they want to grow poppy fields as far as the eye can see, have at it.
As much as we want to believe our presence can influence how others govern themselves, a nation of people must stand up and determine for itself the government it wants.
How many more Sky Motes must we bury before our national leaders see the folly in our international intervention? Our armed forces have accomplished the original mission they were charged with only to see that mission distorted and contorted to fit some new international chess game. Only this game is proving ever more deadly. And our military players are being killed like pawns.
Sgt. Mote’s service to our country will forever be honored. He died protecting us from the bad guys — people that condone our freedoms, our way of life and our religious beliefs. He performed his duties with pride, dignity and valor.
The former Soviet Union spent nine years fighting in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1988 paying dearly for its intervention. Now it appears we’re destined to repeat history by ignoring it.
The one thing we don’t forget is the sacrifice servicemen like Staff Sgt. Sky Mote make. His death is a reminder of how lucky we are as community and a nation to have such brave and honorable people willing to serve, defend and sacrifice their lives for us.
Richard Esposito is publisher of Village Life and the Mountain Democrat.