MANBIJ, Syria — A raid by the U.S. Army’s secretive Delta Force was nearly aborted when an operator discovered endangered Apollo Swallowtail butterflies, sources confirmed today.
Details about the intent of the mission were not disclosed through official channels, but sources said the elite team was hunting an ISIS commander when one soldier called for the team to stop.
“I got two white swallowtails, could be endangered,” the operator said, according to sources.
The sighting reportedly sent shockwaves throughout U.S. Special Operations Command, which culminated in JSOC commander Lt. Gen. General Austin S. Miller being roused from bed at 3:45 a.m. to oversee the mission himself. Sources confirmed that the war room atmosphere was extremely tense, with passions flaring.
“I thought this fucking environmental impact intel was good!” Miller reportedly shouted at CIA Director Gina Haspel during a phone call. “We’ve got a potential butterfly massacre out there, and my boys are right in the middle of it!”
On the ground, operators were able to confirm that the butterflies were Apollo Swallowtails, which are classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, according to officials. Gen. Miller immediately called an emergency meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to discuss the implications of the development, which led the Pentagon to officially deny all knowledge of the mission.
“Cut the satellite feed,” Miller ordered, according to a source who was present. “And may God have mercy on their souls.”
After almost 30 minutes of attempting to reach tactical command via satellite radio, the Delta team leader ordered his men to fashion signs indicating that the area was off-limits for ISIS training, according to the citation of the action, which was recommended for consideration for the Medal of Honor.
“While engaged in security operations, [redacted name] showed conspicuous gallantry by risking his own life and the lives of his team to draw attention to the waning splendor of God’s creation, which man, blinded by ambition and avarice, degrades and destroys with wanton cruelty,” the recommendation read.
After making sure that the signs were clear and legible, the team rerouted around the field to the target house, but due to lack of concealment, they were spotted during their approach. According to a footnote on the Medal of Honor recommendation, four Delta operators were killed.