NORTHERN IRAQ - The first American has been killed in combat since the U.S. withdrew troops in 2011. This happened during a joint overnight rescue mission. U.S. special ops forces joined with Kurdish troops to free around 70 hostages being held by Islamic State Militants. Apparently, President Obama did not sign off on this mission that cost Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler his life.
According to Eric Schultz, White House Deputy Press Secretary "I believe the Defense Department has said that the secretary of defense authorized this mission."
The hostages were facing execution. In fact, satellite imagery showed mass graves for the hostages had already been dug. The Pentagon says Secretary of Defense Ash Carter made the decision to help Kurdish commanders, calling them "close U.S. allies."
"This was a unique circumstance in which very close partners of the United States made a specific request for our assistance," says Peter Cook, Pentagon Press Secretary.
U.S. special ops were supposed to use helicopters to just fly Iraqi Kurdish forces to the ISIS jail. But if the Iraqis started to come under attack, U.S. troops had the authority to step in and help. In other words....combat.
That is exactly what happened. And when heavy gunfire broke out on the ground - - -and U.S. troops approached the compound, the firefight broke out.
Master Sergeant Wheeler was wounded immediately and died later after being air lifted to at a battlefield trauma center in northern Iraq.
While this was a rare joint mission, according to the pentagon, there may be more just like it. We can only hope, with future missions, we don`t have to say, "Rest in peace" to any more U.S. soldiers.