Lt. Col. Fehrenbach

LT. COL. FEHRENBACH…. Rachel Maddow’s introduction of the segment on Lieutenant Colonel Victor J. Fehrenbach last night told a rather remarkable story.

“[Fehrenbach is] an F-15 fighter pilot, 18-year veteran of the United States Air Force,” Rachel explained. “On Sept. 11, Lt. Col. Fehrenbach was picked to be part of the initial alert crew immediately after the 9/11 attacks. The following years, in 2002, he deployed to Kuwait, where he flew combat missions over Afghanistan, attacking Taliban and al Qaeda targets. After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Lt. Col. Fehrenbach deployed there, flying combat missions in support of mission Iraqi Freedom.

“Over the span of his career, he has flown 88 combat missions, including missions that were the longest mission sorties in the history of his squadron. He’s logged more than 2,000 flying hours, nearly 1,500 fighting hours, 400 combat hours. Lt. Col. Fehrenbach is also highly decorated — he’s received nine air medals, including one for heroism. After 18 years of active duty in the Air Force, this experienced, decorated fighter pilot says he is ready and willing to deploy again. He’s ready to do what his country and the United States Air Force ask of him.”

Except, Fehrenbach will no longer able to serve, because the Air Force is kicking him out of the military because he’s gay. This genuine American war hero, who’s put his life on the line over and over again, and who the U.S. government has invested $25 million in training, is two years from retirement. Instead of thanking him for his extraordinary service, the country he’s served with honor and distinction is firing him for his sexual orientation.

Just once, I wanted to hear someone explain why the United States is stronger, safer, and more secure with Lt. Col. Fehrenbach out of the military.

The news comes the same day as word from the Pentagon that officials have barely begun to review the policy.

This is not only unacceptable, it’s inexplicable. In the midst of two wars, these decisions are nothing short of madness.

The White House continues to say the president supports repealing DADT, but is looking for Congress to change the law. Fine. In the meantime, as the LA Times reports today, the president has short-term alternatives: “Under the ‘stop-loss’ provision, Obama can issue executive orders to retain any soldier deemed necessary to the service in a time of national emergency, the report said. The president also could halt the work of Pentagon review panels that brand troops as gay and thus excluded from service, the report said. And Obama and his Defense secretary could revise discharge procedures, as allowed under the 1993 law banning gays in the military.”

I realize the administration would catch some flak for this. Obama should do it anyway.