Opinion: In Defense of Sean Penn


Taking a quick break from Haiti relief operations. L-R: Actor Gerard Butler, Lieutenant Colonel Clif Sawyer, Actress Demi Moore and Sean Penn.
Photo Credit: Clif Sawyer



For a little change of pace, I’m going to actually say something nice for once. Of course, I just might end up with a boot or two heaved at me from my more conservative Military buddies after this piece, but honor demands such.

I don’t know how many folks happened to catch this, but the other day, actor Sean Penn, like many in the entertainment industry, felt it necessary to interject his opinion on the handling of this current crisis. Of course, that was nothing new. What was new, was the change in tone by such a noted leftist Hollywood liberal. From Foxnews.com

Actor Sean Penn praised the United States military and declared they’re needed to help with the coronavirus response in an appearance on CNN, while some wondered why the network was using the A-list actor as an expert on the subject.

Penn worked closely with the U.S. military during the crisis in Haiti following a major earthquake in 2010, helping coordinate relief efforts. He explained Thursday night what the military could do to help with the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Read: Sean Penn wants US military running coronavirus response

Of course, under the code of leftist conduct, no Hollywood denizen is allowed to say anything positive about any institution that supports Truth, Justice, and the American Way…especially the U.S. Military. If, perchance, he had the effrontery to do so, he would be immediately excoriated…and in the harshest terms. More from the article


Fourth Watch editor Steve Krakauer, an avid media critic, initially mocked the segment. “Oh great, we’re finally going to solve this coronavirus thing, Sean Penn is on the case,” he tweeted alongside an image of Penn on his television.

Many others took to Twitter to mock CNN for using a Hollywood celebrity as a coronavirus response expert, with PBS NewsHour contributor Danny Gold calling it “insanely irresponsible.”

For the full gamut of mud being slung at Penn, please take the time to read the full article.

Why am I coming to the defense of a guy like Sean Penn? Here’s why. Until I deployed with my unit to Haiti for earthquake relief, my view of Sean Penn stemmed from his role as “Spicoli” in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and his apparent neck-and-neck competition with Charlie Sheen as Hollywood’s “Bad Boy.” It wasn’t until I saw him in action down in Haiti that I saw another side of him.

That side is best described by the officer assigned to be our liaison with other organizations, both government and non-government, on the ground assisting the effort. Lieutenant Colonel Clif Sawyer, one of the brightest officers in the unit, had daily contact with Penn as all of us labored to bring desperately needed relief to the citizens of Haiti. In his own words sent to me yesterday

I enjoyed working with Sean. I was tremendously impressed with his commitment to the the mission and sincere desire to help the people of Haiti. He displayed relentless stamina when dealing with the physical strain of the mission, and appeared to easily accept the austere environment. I have a tremendous respect for Sean, his work ethic, and his willingness to be part of a team or be a leader. I would be honored to work with him again if given the opportunity.


20 years ago outside the Headquarters tent he was somewhat more pithy, telling me,

“That son of a…is the real deal. When he’s not helping load or unload supplies, he’s on the phone verbally beating the snot out of his actor buddies for not coughing up more cash. He’s the real deal.”

So how did Sean Penn come to be recommending wider use of the United States Military to help in the Wuhan Virus Crisis? My long time Army buddy and sometime codefendant, Colonel Sam Pearson tells it like this

So why would leftist Sean Penn recommend that the US Military should lead the coronavirus response? It is because he sat next to Colonel Clif Sawyer on a daily basis in Haiti after the 2005 Earthquake destroyed the Capital of Haiti killing 230,000 Haitians.

He saw how the US military performed continuous analysis of the needs of the Haitian populace, this effort led by Colonel Bob Curtis [the Operations Officer] . Sean also got to see how every crisis is really a logistics battle, this particularfight led by Major General Luis R. Visot [Commanding General of the 377th Theater Sustainment Command**].

Sean Penn devoted his time intelligence and energy to support the suffering people of Haiti, but he recognized that it was the not UN, but the US military who saved lives, coordinated health care and fed the people of Haiti until the Government of Haiti could return.

In short, Sean Penn is due a couple of kudos. Not only did he put his money…and his back, where his mouth was in regard to earthquake relief down in Haiti, he was man enough to change his mind on long-held views about our military. Here we are almost 10 years after the fact, and his positive impression of our Military effectiveness on other battlefields is still with him. As for the leftist media, I’d say they have a lot to learn from Sean Penn.


**At the height of our fight in Southwest Asia, the 377th Theater Sustainment Command had over 47,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and Civilians in 39 States, 20 some odd foreign countries, and 5 continents. I was proud to serve as the Chief of Staff there as my last assignment and as part of the Haiti relief operation.


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