A former Marine who served under Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, the maverick Marine fired Friday for a now-viral video slamming the US military for botching the exit from Kabul, said he wasn’t 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, 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.
Scheller’s dad, Stuart Sr., told The Post Saturday that he could not comment but agreed with great emotion that what his son did was “extraordinary.” His son said he won’t talk to reporters until he had finished 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.
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?”
He quoted Thomas Jefferson: “Every generation needs a revolution.”
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!”