Dempsey Apologizes to Mother of Fallen Navy Seal

Gold star mother says she accepts the apology but will continue holding the general accountable

Gen. Martin Dempsey / AP
April 23, 2015

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey has apologized for offending the mother of a fallen Navy Seal.

Dempsey expressed his regrets to Debbie Lee, who lost her son Marc to fighting in Ramadi in 2006, after she penned a letter criticizing his comments on the Iraqi town. The apology was delivered to Lee in the form of a letter on Monday, Fox News reports.

"You, sir, owe an apology to the families whose loved ones' blood was shed in Ramadi," she wrote. "You and this administration have minimized that Ramadi could fall, now you are minimizing that it is falling, but you Sir WILL NOT minimize the sacrifice my son Marc Lee made or any of our brave warriors!"

Lee got an apology in the form of a letter on Monday.

"I've read your letter, and I do apologize if I've added to your grief," Dempsey wrote.

"Marc and so many others died fighting to provide a better future for Iraq. He and those with whom he served did all that their nation asked. They won their fight, and nothing will ever diminish their accomplishments nor the honor in which we hold their service," he said.

Dempsey also said that he views the current situation in Iraq as very different from when Lee's son was serving there. He said his original point was that the Iraqi government must determine how the fighting will be done now.

Lee, who said Dempsey is expected to call her by phone later Tuesday, described the letter as a "soft apology" but said, "it’s still an apology and that’s huge."

"I accept it," she told, "Though I’m going to be watching and I won’t hesitate to call him out again if I hear something that’s not right."