Major Mike Banzet: Why I Quit

Desert Storm vet explains decision to leave Air Force after 22 years.

By MIKE BANZET

I never expected to write this letter, but my Mom e-mailed me to get information about my career for a writeup on Veterans Day, and as this is the first such holiday in 22 years when I will not be on active duty, I felt compelled to let you know why I decided to quit.

Quit is a strong word, I know. Everyone I’ve talked to has repeated that I’ve had a marvelous career and that I’ve retired with honor. Maybe that’s true on paper; I guess that it’s reflected by the record. But that’s not how I feel. I feel like I’ve quit. And because I’m not a quitter, I feel I have to explain why — not that anyone is asking, but because perhaps they don’t know to ask.

Briefly, my career had been a representation of the promise of this country. Starting out on the lowest rung of the rank ladder as an F-4G Wild Weasel crew chief, continuing on F-16s and the F-117A Stealth fighter in Desert Storm, then a small part of Desert Fox as a nuclear Maintenance Officer and finally a pilot that took part in numerous deployments in Southern Watch, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. I finished up an awesome year on the ground in Iraq, and was selected to receive a coveted “Definitely Promote,” assuring me of promotion to lieutenant colonel. They don’t pass out many of those. My dreams were right in front of me. All I had to do was grab them. And then I retired. Why?

Atlas Shrugged.

I had chosen, freely, to place my life between those that would do harm to the U.S. and those whom I would protect: her citizens. I had always believed in the best of America and the people of her lands; that despite occasional missteps there was a general “rightness” to our way. I lived that belief for 22 years, leading and following warriors into combat. I’m certainly no war hero; my brothers in arms have seen far more combat, more intense and personal than I. But I have become acquainted with death in a way that I hope you never do. My last tour, on the ground in Iraq was where my heart started to be hardened towards you, the electorate, and culminated in this letter, written two days before our elections. And here’s why.

You’ve elected officials who, for partisan points, spoke openly that the “…war is lost.” I happened to be in a dining facility in Baghdad that day, filled with the (mostly) young faces of (mostly) Army men and women. CNN was on the TVs, and things got very quiet when this elected official continued on, railing that the mission that some of these very people were here to do, had “…failed.” Yet, they would be donning their body armor, strapping on med kits and weapons, mounting HMMVs or MRAPs and heading outside the wire, ensuring that the newborn democracy in Iraq, purchased with so many lives, would be safe another night. The newly re-invigorated insurgents would be waiting, teeth bared back in a hateful smile, gripping the IED detonator, the RPG launcher, or the AK-47s to ply their trade with new energy, because the Senate Majority Leader had said they were winning.

You elected officials who continually defame and berate military members, whether it is the observation that if you’re not too bright, you’ll get “…stuck in Iraq” (this from a guy who has two Purple Hearts for self-inflicted wounds, and known for throwing someone else’s medals away in protest), or the calling of combat Marines cold-blooded killers (in a war; before trial). You’ve elected officials in the role of commander-in-chief who “loathe” the military, while using ROTC deferments and special treatment to avoid military service that the less “connected” take as a responsibility. On the basis of “change,” you elected someone who had close, ongoing associations with people who were part of an organization that tried to kill us [U.S. military] on our own soil.

You elected officials that promised to take property from some Americans, and give it to you, merely because they had more than you did. Those Americans that these officials have labeled as the “rich” are your neighbors, who provide jobs and pay far more in taxes than you ever will. That means they are already subsidizing your lifestyle choices; you just want more of their property without the responsibility of risking your wealth and labor to get it. You would rather hire someone to take it from them. And you have.

Yet these same officials from this same party are the wealthiest group of people in both the House and Senate. They have offshore accounts, forbid unions in their businesses and use every tax loophole they can find with their armies of accountants. But you keep sending them back to those jobs, because they promise to steal from some Americans and give to you.

You elect officials who openly embrace illegal activity; but they don’t have to live with the consequences. Other Americans pay the price. You support “sanctuary cities” and open defiance of federal law, including supporting administrations who sue our sister states as they desperately try to control a crime epidemic by supporting federal law. You support an administration that leads a party that gives a standing ovation to the leader of a country that exploits our kindness and actively encourages law-breaking in our country while insulting our fellow citizens who dare to try to enforce the law. Check out your elected officials; did they stand and applaud the racist diatribe of the president of Mexico? Did they join the attorney general and the head of Homeland Security in applauding this gaping hole in (homeland) security and law? Do you have locks on your doors? Why?

You elect officials who are openly racist, decrying that “White folks’ greed drives a world in need…” and that their own grandmother was a “…typical white person.” Someone who sits in admiration as their pastor (small p; no capital letters for racists), in a church he attended for 20 years, slanders the United States as the “…U.S. of KKK America” and delights that the 9/11 “…chickens have come home to roost.” Someone who refused to denounce a paramilitary, racist organization that placed its members in front of polling places armed with billy clubs, and yelling racist, threatening epithets. On video. And the Attorney General did nothing.

Oh, wait. The Justice Department is now apparently, under sworn testimony, the Department of Racial Payback. And you continue to support the party that supports this blatantly racist behavior because they say that they will stick it to “the man” on your behalf. A Nation of Cowards? I don’t think so; the courage of this breathtaking racism is without equal in modern times. One would think that you would use your votes to eradicate these racist policies from the U.S. But that assumes eradicating racism is your aim. It’s not, or you would be as incensed at this blatant racism as you would if sheet-covered whites were there. But longtime Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd’s old gang has been rightfully disgraced and shamed into a virtual non-existence. Thank goodness that 52 percent of you discourage that kind of behavior.

But you don’t. You support the tactic of using the epithet of “racist” as the cudgel of choice for racists who don’t like policies that conservatives advocate. Don’t like illegal activity? Racist. Your party insists that to provide a photo ID — proving you are who you say you are — is not only too much of a burden to ask a voter to bear, but it’s racist as well. This not only terribly insulting to all races, but when the burden of proof to rent the DVD “Second Hand Lions” (amazing movie!) is higher than that required to vote for someone who has control of nuclear weapons or deploying men and women into harm’s way, there is something wrong.

It doesn’t end there. Don’t like a particular female’s policies? Sexist. Yet, you support politicians who prey on 20-year old interns, seduce underage male interns, and, as a double bonus, support a person for the Supreme Court who says she is “wiser” than white people because of her race and sex. And any opponent of hers must be sexist and racist. Yet the prevailing double standard makes “bitch” an acceptable term for a conservative grandmother with the temerity to want to stop illegal activity. And “whore” is acceptable terminology for any conservative woman.

Sarah Palin seems to be a nice person, the kind you would love to have as a neighbor, regardless of her policies; but you insist that she is stupid and vile. She is ignorant and inexperienced, clearly not ready for anything, as holding a variety of elected and appointed positions culminating in the governorship of Alaska clearly doesn’t hold up against… an organizer of race-based communities. Sexist, if a conservative said those words about a liberal, but because she is not pro-killing-little-kids, 52 percent of you decided she was worth vicious ad hominem attacks that continue to this day. Not just saying that you disagree, but saying she is evil. You support it all. All because the folks that practice this abhorrent behavior promise to give you free health care stolen from other Americans who haven’t paid their ill-defined “fair share.”

My oath was this: “I, Mike, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

I took that oath seriously. But you have responsibilities, too. You should take them seriously.

Mike Banzet, a retired major in the U.S. Air Force, is a 1986 graduate of Flathead High School in Kalispell, Montana.

When I first read this letter I knew I had to post it in its entirety, without any embellishes or comments from me.  Major Banzet’s words speak louder, clearer, with an eloquence that stands alone without overt embellishments.

It is a shame that men and women who serve our nation find themselves disillusioned and repelled at the level of revulsion directed at them by many of the esteemed Members of Congress.  Many of which never served a day of their lives in uniform, let alone in a combat zone.  These respected public servants are not fit to lick the shoes of Major Banzet, let alone speak against them.

Let the words of Major Banzet be a wake-up call to us all.  For if the Major Banzet’s leave our military disillusioned and disheartened, we will be faced with the reality of a second class military incapable of defeating our weakest foe and unable to defend this nation from those who would destroy it from within.  A military the former Soviet Union wanted us to have and their fellow travelers are trying to turn into the new reality.

In Tribute To The Men And Women Of the US Air Force

Wild Blue Yonder

By Findalis

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  • awesome just awesome, how lucky are we to have had people like this in our military, and how terrible to have lost them for any reason let alone the deplorable political climate of this country. Someone should read this letter on the house floor for full chambers just before the worst president of our time speaks. If Major Baznet ran with Sarah Palin as VP it would give me reason to vote again. People of this character are a rare find in today’s world, I thank him for his service to our country. Great letter, great post, thanks.

  • Pingback: Air Force Major Mike Banzet Retires & Why « RickRaff()

  • David

    I’m in awe of the bravery it would take to make such a stand as Major Baznet has. But it seems to me that his feelings of being let down are directed at the wrong place. Politicians, left and right, say and do truly un-American things all the time. Because they are paid to do so. there is only one true party in America, and that’s the Money Party. He would do well to redirect his anger towards the people that corrupted the system in the first place, and redirect his efforts to combating the root causes of that corruption.

  • The Major, bless his heart, was a little slower on the ball than some of the rest of us. I recall the election of President Clinton as the point where I realized the electorate didn’t deserve my sweat. If the good citizens were going to elect a man who dodged the draft and lied about smoking dope, then I wasn’t going to work for their liberties- they didn’t deserve it.

    My challenges aren’t with the chihuahua sized parasites in the District of Criminals- they’re playing their role in excellence. Rather, it is the electorate… those folks we call neighbors… they are the ones who bear full responsibility in this debacle. Unfortunately, truer words were never penned, and it will be only then that those folks outside my window will begin to raise their heads from Dancing with Stars to take note. “All experience hath shown that mankind is more disposed to suffer…” So, bring on the suffering and let’s round this bend already!

  • Frank A.

    Mr. Banzet would defend the puppets on the right, while condemning the puppets on the left. He is no better than those he denounces. Anyone risking their life for some political propaganda, all the while calling it “defending our freedom” is in no place to talk about stupidity.

  • Oh Boy

    There is so much to say and not enough time and room to say it all. To blame others for his personal decision is overly dramatic and lacks the personal responsibility for one’s own actions that I would expect from a former member of the Military. It is my opinion that it also is a clear distortion of the reality of things, for instance, wasn’t it that great Republican group that chose to shit all over our constitution with the Patriot act? That same Republican group that led us to war based on clear lies. The American military is not fighting for my freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are fighting for some other reason, but surely know that it is not to secure/safeguard my freedoms. The Republican controlled government in the eight years from 2000 on, did more damage to my freedoms and liberties, than any phantom terrorist group has done, and that would be the same years that this person chose to continue his service. Thank you for your service, but you need to take some time to more critically look at the world around you. Oh and btw, enjoy that pension that you have, because the folks that pay all bills have had their pensions either stolen or abolished all in the name of profit (free enterprise) that the republicorp like to spew. And lastly, ask yourself what would you do, if your entire family was killed by bombs raining down on your street, and invasion forces patrolling your home town? Who would be the terrorist and who would be the patriot defending his home?

    • Oh Boy, G.W. didn’t take office in 2000. He took office on January 20th, 2001, less than 8 months before 9/11/01, and many years after the Muslim bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania…and years after the U.S.S. Cole and first World Trade Tower bombings – also Muslim bombings.

      You are in the wrong forum here to say that our military knows it is not fighting to secure/safeguard your freedoms. Certainly they don’t have a clue who you are, so maybe you are right in that respect – but do not come here and accuse our military of some other agenda other than a call to duty by a grateful nation. You have essentially called our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Guard, killers. That’s despicable.

      How about thinking of all the young men and some young women who joined after three airplanes filled with Americans hit New York, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania – who joined because they lost loved ones.

      At this blog, do not ever again intimate that our military are terrorists.

    • Come on, Oh Boy, you KNOW that the Patriot Act was a helluva good idea – your guy Obama even agreed so much that he extended it! Surely, you aren’t saying that Obama and the Democrats have assailed the American peoples’ rights with their extension of this Act…or are you?

      As for the “lies” for the Iraq War – I’m curious, do you recall how many Democrat Representatives and Senators voted FOR the military action against Saddam? Were they lying too? Do you need a link to the impassioned speech of Hillary Clinton demanding that we aggressively go into Iraq and kick Saddam Hussein’s ass?

      And lastly, save your thanks to this man for his service – you didn’t mean it, you lied when you said it and you don’t want all of us here to think you’re a liar, do you Oh Boy? Why couldn’t you just be a real man and state your case instead of caving to that and trying to cover yourself?

      As for the military pensions, I hope the new Congress doubles them – we’ll simply take the pension monies out of the public sector unions to pay for it – that’s fair isn’t it? ….you know, surely the Vets deserve more compensation than fat cat union leaders, right?

      G_d Bless Our Troops!

  • What’s so hard for some of you to understand?

    They guy is sick of fighting for idiots who vote in treasonous defeatists.

    Do you expect these guys to see a reason to die for and arrogant, appeasing, anti-American fool like Obama… who’s basically told the military they need to kiss his ring?

    The Republicans -meaning GEORGE W BUSH, John McCain, and their non-political strategic ally General Petraeus- WON THE WAR while Harry Reid and Barack Obama couldn’t surrender fast enough.

    Who the hell do you think the military is going to want in office?

    Hey “David” et. el., why don’t you tell us the real reason you’re trying to throw cold water on the reality of just how bad a contemptuous strategic imbecile like Barrack Obama is for military morale– you with David Plouffe, MoveOn, or…?

  • PS- that goes 2x for “Blinded” and “Oh Boy”-

    Would be great if you had the courage and morals to tell us your real agenda… instead of wasting our time with your specious speil

  • Blinded,

    First off, a totally appropriate nickname here for you. To come to a blog and then bitch about the blogger responding to comments – is this your first blog experience? As for the military complex being out of control, well, if it wasn’t for the American military, you’d be curled up in the corner of some hut somewhere with your thumb in your mouth after working 16 hours in the potato fields, instead of typing away on a computer from the luxury of your Mother’s basement.

    Do me a favor, Blinded. Get out on the street today, find a U.S. soldier or Marine in uniform, shake his or her hand, thank them for their service and for keeping you safe and free, then cower away back to the shadows.

  • Oh Boy, Blinded and David:

    Note that I did not comment on this post until Oh Boy’s comment because it was obvious it touched a nerve on both sides.

    You David, said I was overreacting because “no one excoriated the military.”
    Check your dictionary. “Excoriating” is to denounce or berate.

    When Oh Boy said this: “The American military is not fighting for my freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are fighting for some other reason, but surely know that it is not to secure/safeguard my freedoms,”that is excoriation.

    Combine that with intimating our soldiers are the terrorists, and it is my right and in my power to tell anyone I want not to come here and do it again.

    The agenda was put forth by Oh Boy that Republicans and the military are both despicable. Why would anyone deny the military a pension, call them terrorists, defend our clear enemies and deny the support for Iraq first proclaimed by every prominent Democrat, unless he/she has an agenda. On my blog, I choose the agenda.

    Blinded, you may have the right to say what you want. I have the right to refuse it here at my blog, which is open to the internet, unless I chose to close it to some. I pay for the right to have my say, and deny others theirs, if I see fit. You are not welcome here.

    On this post, all discussion with/by David, Blinded and Oh Boy is closed.

    • David

      Oh Boy, Blinded and David:

      Note that I did not comment on this post until Oh Boy’s comment because it was obvious it touched a nerve on both sides.

      You David, said I was overreacting because “no one excoriated the military.”
      Check your dictionary. “Excoriating” is to denounce or berate.

      When Oh Boy said this: “The American military is not fighting for my freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are fighting for some other reason, but surely know that it is not to secure/safeguard my freedoms,”that is excoriation.

      Combine that with intimating our soldiers are the terrorists, and it is my right and in my power to tell anyone I want not to come here and do it again.

      The agenda was put forth by Oh Boy that Republicans and the military are both despicable. Why would anyone deny the military a pension, call them terrorists, defend our clear enemies and deny the support for Iraq first proclaimed by every prominent Democrat, unless he/she has an agenda. On my blog, I choose the agenda.

      Blinded, you may have the right to say what you want. I have the right to refuse it here at my blog, which is open to the internet, unless I chose to close it to some. I pay for the right to have my say, and deny others theirs, if I see fit. You are not welcome here.

      On this post, all discussion with/by David, Blinded and Oh Boy is closed.

      Maggie-
      The important point is that no one in this thread is against our soldiers, and Blinded is apparently a veteran him/herself. I think all 3 of us would excoriate, denounce, and berate the *leadership* that sends our children into harms way based on lies, greed, and corporate profit. And many other veterans agree. How can any well-meaning American ignore their plight?

      I don’t think anyone is despicable except the people who lie to the public and abuse our trust by propagating the false Left/Right dichotomy. If you’re not ready to realize that the Dem/Repub parties are both corrupted to the core and entirely beholden to hidden corporate interests, none of us can force you to do that. But I urge you to do some research about who the American public’s real enemies are. (Hint: the louder they’re shouting, the less relevant they are). I am on the side of anyone who’s willing to engage in civil debate, and I appreciate your civil tone, even if I don’t think you realize the extent to which normal Americans have been brainwashed into distracting themselves in a false left-right debate. While we bicker, our founding fathers–who warned us excessively about the dangers of corporate and banking excess–roll over in their graves.

      When disaster strikes, and the rest of our freedoms are finally stripped from “we the people,” I hope you’ll realize what I mean.

      • David, you are not alone in “understanding” what is going on. You have no claim to being “wiser” than any of us. In your own mind, of your own opinion, fine, but if you defend Oh Boy and Blinded, that conversation will not be had here.

        You will note that when you first commented, I did not comment back. I understand the varied emotions when discussing our military. I do not expect everyone to feel the way I do, or the way you do, but keep in mind that our military is voluntary, and most will not agree with you either. They would not be serving if they did.

        Unless you have read many posts here, you don’t have a clue how I feel about the Constitution or freedom and liberty. I long ago and continuously “excoriated” both Democrats and Republicans for both parties for both near and distant past. You want honest debate, I want honest debate. You see, I think you have been brainwashed or whatever, and be assured that knowing our Founding Fathers are rolling over in their graves is something I realize everyday, for reasons differing from yours.

  • Dave

    Well, if it wasn’t for the American military, you’d be curled up in the corner of some hut somewhere with your thumb in your mouth after working 16 hours in the potato fields, instead of typing away on a computer from the luxury of your Mother’s basement.

    • Dave, it’s not clear who you are addressing with your comment.