Retired Senior Chief Petty Officer Mike Toussaint was sent out on the mission to find and rescue Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, after he left his post in Afghanistan in 2009.
Free Beacon reports Toussaint’s harrowing rescue attempt where his military service dog, Remco, was killed and his team leader suffered a career-ending injury:
Nine days after Bergdahl’s desertion, SEAL team members Toussaint and Remco were sent on a hostage rescue operation in southeastern Afghanistan to search for the missing private. He said the team, led by Senior Chief Petty Officer Jimmy Hatch, knew prior to the July 8 mission that Bergdahl voluntarily left his post, despite earlier reports stating he was captured on patrol.
“We all agreed we were going to go get him—he’s an American, that’s our job—but we all wanted to have a talk with him,” Toussaint said.
Hostage rescue missions are inherently dangerous, and Hatch testified last week that the operation to rescue Bergdahl was no different. He recalled expressing concern prior to the operation that someone would be killed or hurt given the hasty planning and grueling conditions.
Toussaint said he was confident, having “no doubt,” his team was walking into a prepared and expecting enemy.
The team was immediately bombarded with gunfire upon landing, and soon after his service dog was killed by a “spray of bullets.”
Moments later, Hatch was shot in the right leg, shattering his femur and effectively ending his career. He subsequently endured 18 surgeries over a two-year span.
“It all happened real quick,” Toussaint said. “I remember seeing Remco get within a couple feet of their location and then he got shot in the head and came flying back out, I mean literally flying out. Right about that time … because it all got chaotic real quick … Jimmy who was right to my right, got shot. I remember hearing him, I could tell he was in pain, and then all I remember was kind of like a fireworks show.”
Toussaint said he ran into an onslaught of gunfire and grenades to kill the two militants. He grabbed Remco by his vest and dragged him back to Jimmy, where a couple of U.S. servicemen had arrived to administer first aid.
Toussaint choked back tears as he recalled carrying Remco onto a helicopter that airlifted him and Jimmy to a nearby hospital.
“I hadn’t accepted that he was mortally wounded at that time, I think it was just denial,” he said as he described clipping off Remco’s vest and trying to revive his breathing.
Although Toussaint was honored with a Silver Star, he said the horrors of that night still haunt him:
Toussaint later received the Silver Star for pursuing the two men and ending the engagement, “allowing his teammates to provide lifesaving combat casualty care to his wounded team leader,” according to the award citation. Remco also received a Silver Star for sacrificing himself “as he aggressively engaged the enemy, drew effective fire onto himself, and gave his teammates the split seconds needed to change the balance of the fight.”
“That and the fact that I relive watching him getting him shot—those two—those are the two that tend to stick with me and they probably always will,” he said. “But the reality is he did his job. He did exactly what we told him to do.”
“We knowingly went out in hazardous situations, it’s just part of the job,” he said. “It’s not like I didn’t accept the reality of any of us not coming home on any given night, that’s just the realistic truth to it … but to have that night take place only because—solely because—we had a selfish American that walked off a base, it just makes it harder to swallow.”
As for Bergdahl’s sentence, he asks, “What kind of a message does that send to the world, the military, and the victims who suffered because of this?”
Note: The author of this article has included commentary that expresses an opinion and analysis of the facts.