On this Veteran’s Day weekend, as the Trump White House plans to send more troops and planes into Afghanistan, we bring you a cautionary tale of how five U.S. soldiers — including two Green Berets — died there on the night of June 9, 2014.
The Pentagon concluded the deaths were an “avoidable” accident — known by the contradictory phrase “friendly fire.” It was the deadliest such incident involving U.S. fatalities in 16 long years of ongoing war in Afghanistan. It wasn’t gunfire that killed the U.S. soldiers. It was a pair of 500-pound bombs dropped right on top of them by a U.S. warplane.
You’re about to hear what happened that day from three of the soldiers who were there — including the Green Beret commander. It’s the first time they have spoken about the secret mission and they dispute the official version of events and warn it is going to happen again. It started just after sundown on a sweltering night with a fierce fire-fight.
Brandon Branch: Bullets whizzing by, kickin up all around you.
Henry “Hank” Montalbano: At certain points it would die down, but it was unrelenting at other points.
Derrick Anderson: It looked almost like a fireworks show where they are shooting down on our positions.
Bill Whitaker: Were you scared?
Brandon Branch: Absolutely. I think you would have to be borderline insane to not have some kinda fear. All you can do at that point is return fire and hope the next one you know doesn’t get you.
Brandon Branch was a skilled army combat paramedic — attached to the Green Berets — who had dreamed since childhood of being a soldier.
Communications Sergeant Henry “Hank” Montalbano joined the Green Berets after graduating from Williams College.
And Captain Derrick Anderson — the Green Beret team commander — could be a poster boy for the Army. Fluent in Arabic, at 29 he was a Bronze Star recipient in Iraq and had led more than 80 combat patrols in Afghanistan. This was supposed to be the team’s final…