The maverick Marine fired after he released a now-viral video slamming the U.S. military for botching the exit from Kabul issued a clear threat to his aging superiors Saturday. “The baby boomer’s turn is over,” Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller told The New York Post in an exclusive interview. “I demand accountability, at all levels. If we don’t get it, I’m bringing it.” He also quoted Thomas Jefferson, saying “every generation needs a revolution.”
Here is the Post’s account of what has happened:
Scheller’s family and former troops say they’re not surprised the officer sacrificed his career in order to tell his truth.
“It takes real courage to do what he did and that was Stu all the way,” Juan Chavez, 33, of Valparaiso, Ind., who served under Scheller from 2011 to 2014, told The Post Saturday. “He was a magnificent leader, a breath of fresh air, who was always going to do what’s right, even if it goes against the grain.”
Scheller’s father, Stuart Sr., told The Post his son was “the real deal, a Marine’s Marine. People will follow him to the ends of the earth. He has put his life on the line for fellow Marines so putting his career on the line like this does not surprise us.”
Marine officer Stuart Scheller was relieved of duty for calling out brass over Afghanistan.
Scheller, 41, a 17-year Marine veteran three years short of qualifying for a full pension, went viral Thursday after he posted a four-minute, 45-second video to Facebook in which he appeared in uniform and ripped into military leadership following the devastating suicide bombing at Kabul airport, which killed 13 US service members and at least 169 Afghans.
He specifically called out Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Berger, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
“People are upset because their senior leaders let them down, and none of them are raising their hands and accepting accountability or saying, ‘We messed this up,’” he said, according to the Post.
Stuart Scheller Sr. said his son idolized his grandfather, a World War II vet who landed on the beach at Normandy, and always wanted to go into the military. “He’s still on the battlefield protecting his men and women,” Scheller Sr. said. “It’s interesting that no one (in the military) has answered his call for accountability. Their answer was to fire him I guess. It’s a sad day for America.” read the story in the Post.
His son has said he won’t talk to reporters until he finishes his “formal” exit from the Marines.
A married father of three boys who lives in Jacksonville, NC, Scheller seemed to have had a brilliant military career before he did the unthinkable and broke rank with the Marine Corps. He received a Combat V for Valor and a Bronze Star. But now he’s a hero to many in the military and among civilians for, as one person commented, “coming out with what everyone was thinking but was afraid to say.”
In his video, Scheller said that the US should never have abandoned its most strategic airbase – Bagram – early this summer. Milley said on June 23 that Bagram “wasn’t tactically or operationally necessary” for the US military’s final exit from Afghanistan.
Scheller said some of his fellow officers, while supportive, urged him to take down the video. “Obviously I didn’t take it down,” Scheller wrote in a later Facebook post. “I’ll offer this … we can’t ALL be wrong. If you all agree … then step up. They only have the power because we allow it. What if we all demanded accountability?”
More than 30,000 people, some of whom served under Scheller, have liked and commented on his video.
“Proud to have served under your command sir, we’ll follow you to the pits of hell and back,” wrote Zach Olbrys of Worcester, Mass.
Ryan Holland of Lexington, Ky. wrote: “I see a seat in Washington in your near future!! It was always an honor serving with you sir! Semper Fi!”
“It took big brass balls to do what you did … (knowing) it came at a huge risk to your career personally,” wrote Paul Zedalis. “An Officer with integrity … hard to find at the senior levels these days. My hat is off to you Sir!”
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Scheller is enjoying a groundswell of support and his demand for accountability is popular while the Afghanistan bungle is weighing heavily on President Biden and his administration. This is far from over.