Personal Gratification - and Loss
"He can hear but he can't see. He looked confused. And way taller than I was expecting. He was holding her in front of him. Maybe as a shield, I don't know. For me, it was a snapshot of a target ID, definitely him. Even in our kill houses where we train, there are targets with his face on them. This was repetition and muscle memory.That stealth-executed raid in Abbottabad, despite the loss of one of the helicopters went flawlessly. It was well-rehearsed, and the men tasked to undertake that raid were confident of their ability to pull it off. They were professionals well honed in their trade, but they were also human, and they must also have been somewhat nervous. According to the account laid out by the unnamed assassin - for that is what he was - they felt it was possible that none of them would return alive from this mission.
"I thought in that first instant how skinny he was, how tall and how short his beard was, all at once. He was wearing one of those white hats, but he had, like, an almost shaved head. Like a crew cut. I remember all that registering.
"That time I used my EOTech red-dot holo sight. He was dead. Not moving. His tongue was out. I watched him take his last breaths, just a reflex breath.
"Everybody wanted him dead, but nobody wanted to say, Hey, you're going to kill this guy. It was just sort of understood that's what we wanted to do."
Member of SEAL Team 6
But they did, it was a perfectly-executed raid. They dropped down onto the compound roof, made their way through the building, and separated, each going their own way, to hunt down and dispatch Osama bin Laden. It was this particular member of the team who happened to be the one who saw a man who fit the description of bin Laden poke his head around a door, closing it back behind him. It was this member of the team who entered through that door.
He described seeing bin Laden hold his youngest wife before him, shielding himself from the intent of the intruder, and groping along a shelf to take possession of a firearm he knew was there. But the SEAL had night-vision goggles and Osama bin Laden did not. And the SEAL reacted with precision, shooting the master terrorist just where it counted, causing immediate death. A more humane death than those who died in agony and fear thanks to this dread terrorist.
They made good their escape, scooping up computers, files, disks, dead body. And beating the night sky with the helicopter blades, before official Pakistan and the elite military personnel in the nearby installation knew what was happening, made their way to the Bagram base. "During the next few hours the thought that hit me was 'This is awesome. This is great. We lived. This is perfect. We just did it all'."
This man had succeeded in dispatching the world's most notorious, most sought-after assassin. And now it could be assumed that those who valued the life of the leader of al-Qaeda would be enraged and seek to return the compliment. For this mission and for the choice opportunity to rid the world of a menace and a vital symbol of Islamofascism, the rewards appear fairly slim, apart from the initial euphoria.
The SEAL, now in the civilian world, released from his formal role after sixteen years as a military professional has no pension or health care insurance. He was offered a witness protection opportunity that would include delivering beer in Milwaukee; quite a change in profession. He has now taught his children where to seek refuge in case of an emergency.
And his wife how to shoot a rifle.