Battleland

Bin Laden Killer, Feeling Betrayed by U.S. Government, Steps into Limelight. Kind Of

In an "Esquire" article, the Navy SEAL who claims to have killed Osama bin Laden says he has nothing to show for his 16 years of service

  • Share
  • Read Later
AAMIR QURESHI / AFP / Getty Images

Pakistani soldiers stand guard on top of Osama bin Laden's hideout hours after Navy SEALs killed him inside

The spotlight of fame is burning ever brighter for the SEALs who took down Osama bin Laden. Last year we had Matt Bissonnette’s No Easy Day about the mission. Now Esquire magazine has released a story, to appear in its March issue, featuring the SEAL who claims to have been first inside bin Laden’s bedroom and fired the shots that killed him.

While the former SEAL, who reporter Phil Bronstein calls only “the Shooter” (he is not named in the piece), tells a unique tale, he also gripes that he has nothing to show for his 16 years of service.

The good:

“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’s him, boom, done.

“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. I was amazed how tall he was, taller than all of us, and it didn’t seem like he would be, because all those guys were always smaller than you think.

“I’m just looking at him from right here [he moves his hand out from his face about 10 inches]. He’s got a gun on a shelf right there, the short AK he’s famous for. And he’s moving forward … He’s got a gun within reach. He’s a threat. I need to get a head shot so he won’t have a chance to clack himself off [blow himself up].

“In that second, I shot him, two times in the forehead. Bap! Bap! The second time as he’s going down. He crumpled onto the floor in front of his bed and I hit him again, Bap! same place. 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.

“And I remember as I watched him breathe out the last part of air, I thought: Is this the best thing I’ve ever done, or the worst thing I’ve ever done? This is real and that’s him. Holy s—.”

The bad:

… the Shooter will discover soon enough that when he leaves after 16 years in the Navy, his body filled with scar tissue, arthritis, tendonitis, eye damage and blown disks, here is what he gets from his employer and a grateful nation:

Nothing. No pension, no health care, and no protection for himself or his family.

Unknown

The ugly:

The apparent fact that this is how one veteran feels he has to reach out to get the help he and his family need (although several vets believe the SEAL would be entitled to five years of medical care postservice from the Veterans Administration).

Full story here.

43 comments
melonheadx13
melonheadx13

sounds like he's looking for a book deal.

flynnbw
flynnbw

It's not a "belief" issue.  It's a fact.  Anyone who served in OIF, OEF or OND (New Dawn, what we called Iraq at the very end) is eligible for five years of health benefits from the VA regardless of any service-connection.  



samthayer1958
samthayer1958

He made the choice to become a Navy SEAL, one of the most dangerous and self-destructive occupations in today's military.  What did his family think?  While I have the utmost respect for his sacrifices, he knew the rules: 20 years to a pension. 

PabloEnriquez
PabloEnriquez

Oh boo hoo. Even apparently even a SEAL can be a baby now and again. This guy's entire life he's known he had to stay in 20 to get the pension. Get out at 16 and get what the rest of the nation gets big guy. So you did your job and took out Bin Laden, awesome. You volunteered, right? I'm grateful for SEALs and I'm grateful for postmen and even Rosie the Riveter, but quit complaining. Take your 4 years of free college and great 16 years of pay you received from the Navy and move on. I got out after 8 years, fought the good fight in retail, and now have a better life. You did your job, nothing more, nothing less. I did mine too. I'm proud, but what else could your country possibly owe you after they've been so good about VA benefits, education, great pay, etc?

billyc247
billyc247

Well I hope this Xseal  can get use to the ideal of being part of the people and how we have felt all these years about our weak governmet... We The People have been stepped on for a very long time,,,, get use to it... They don't care about you no matter who you killed,,,, hard facts buddy, but it's the truth....  I had that wake up call sometime ago about our Government.....! Use you and abuse you.....and use you and abuse you some more.... Just like the american people get used and abused each and everyday....!!

marc
marc

Nowadays it has only to be rich banker or heir to the head of a fortune.Not a person who risks his life for the country, a mother or family etc. .. Today the middle class who lived now lives in a villa is  in a car with famillies.If it comes to a war who will  defend the country? Daddy's   boys or the beggars?

ajit585
ajit585

I cant believe this. I'm a veteran of the Indian Army. Any soldier/ sailor/ airman who completes his terms of engagement is guaranteed free life time medical treatment for himself and his wife in military hospitals for the rest of their lives.

TopFinster
TopFinster

There'll be more to this. I expect USSOCOM will address this in painful detail in order to right a wrong.

My last "tour" in Iraq got me over 250 missions outside the wire in a year. Started fighting third day in country, nearly killed by suicide bomber 10 days before rotation stateside. Came home pretty beat up. My service decided to re-deploy me again 45 days after arrival home despite DOD post-deployment "dwell policy". I was also selected for promotion that same year. I was done. Luckily for me I already had over 20 years and retired.

I hope this gets squared away to benefit the warrior.

MrObvious
MrObvious

That is sad. The least we can do for all the ones that are truly heroes of this nation is that we give them all the help and healthcare they need and a healthy pension at that.

They earned it - far more so then what we so easily call 'heroes' in the civilian population.

JamesHarris
JamesHarris

As a former military veteran of 22 years, with 10 of those in USSOCOM, something here is amiss.  The rules regarding Tri-Care eligibility are pretty specific in that the only individuals who are considered “retired” from the military are those who served for 20 years before they left military service, or those who have been certified medically retired because they have become disabled.  With "scar tissue, arthritis, tendonitis, eye damage, and blown disks," Why did you not apply for medical retirement disability benefits prior to your separation physical?  Did you in fact retire under RE Code 4R or did you simply ETS????



billc72069
billc72069

pretty shocking to see uncle sam give the shit to veterans when they come home while they ask us 

to honor and shake hands with them at parades !  very sad and hypocritical of the obummer administration !

they claimed that they will be cared and provided for while it is NOT TRUE at all ! Shame on uncle sam !

roknsteve
roknsteve

Remember how Bin Laden would pop up before every election when Bush was President?  I guess he wore out his usefulness.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

…the Shooter will discover soon enough that when he leaves after sixteen years in the Navy, his body filled with scar tissue, arthritis, tendinitis  eye damage, and blown disks, here is what he gets from his employer and a grateful nation:

Nothing. No pension, no health care, and no protection for himself or his family.

Why?  Shouldn't this be covered in his VA benefits or am I missing something?  The article doesn't seem to go into it much; does Seal Team 6 forfeit these military retirement perks, or has the soldier in question not served long enough to take advantage of them?

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Nothing?  Not even a silver bullet?

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

@TopFinster Thank you for sharing this and for your service, TopFinster.

Oh, and welcome to Swampland!

jeebuzz
jeebuzz

@JamesHarris @JamesHarris

I agree that this sounds odd.  With those kinds of medical problems he should have been medically retired (i.e. med board).  If I were him, I would have at least tried to get a permanent profile to with duty limitations related to those injuries and ask for a less stressful assignment to just stick it out for another 4 years and then retire.  If he just ETS'd without any kind of plan for how to pay his bills or take care of himself, it's sort of on him.  He should know better after 16 years in service.  

After all he has done for his country though, it really is a shame if he has nothing to show for it.  It makes me want to contribute to one of the many great volunteer organizations that take care of veterans like him!

S_Deemer
S_Deemer

@JamesHarris Agreed, something is clearly amiss. I dealt with the Atlanta VAMC for more than 4 years for my father-in-law's (WW II vet) health care. The care he received prior to his demise in the palliative care unit in December was second to none, truly outstanding. The atmosphere of the place may be more like Walmart than Mayo Clinic, but I never met a doctor, nurse, or orderly who was anything but competent and caring, right up until his last days, when he, as well as my wife and I, received tremendous support.

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

@JamesHarris Welcome to Swampland, James, and thank you for your service.

Also: Thanks for adding your experience and some facts to the discussion. It sounds like there are avenues of help available to The Shooter.  I hope that he and the VA can connect to get him the help he needs.

Mark Thompson: Good article. Did you read James' comment? Could you follow up on this?

retiredvet
retiredvet

@billc72069 Dude, that kind of disrespect for the current or any other president is totally uncalled for here.

Tero
Tero

@billc72069 

Your pathetic grammar and poor spelling are also "pretty shocking". I would also point out that screwing over veterans began with the Revolutionary War vets and continues to this day, it is not a result of decisions made by the "obummer administration" but is the result of a long line of bad decisions and bureaucratic red-tape.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Makes me wonder aloud if the W admin just used this guy's rants to get re-elected and nothing more.  If evidence turns up that they knew where he was and did nothing, that's worse than treason.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@roknsteve 

I can deal with how he was 'popped' for good this time. Good riddance.

PabloEnriquez
PabloEnriquez

@DonQuixotic I agree the article touched rather briefly on it. Our country has said that if you serve 20 years, you will get the pension. If you get out at 19 or even 16 you don't. The article claims he is getting out at 16. What I fail to realize is why this is such a big enough deal that this guy feels press is warranted. Is he any better than me or the guy who bags my groceries? We all have lots in life, even the grocery bagger knows the rules. All this money for pensions has to come from somewhere. If we give them out to everyone, regardless of any rules, then someone has to pay for it. His reward is a grateful nation, a GI Bill, the option to do 4 more years and get his pension, and probably even a book deal somewhere.... 

mtngoatjoe
mtngoatjoe

@DonQuixoticMy guess is that he just wanted out. He just wanted to be done and try to move on with his life. He knew that if he pursued a medical retirement that he would be kept on active duty until the medical review board was done (which can sometimes take years). My guess (and this is only a guess) is that he probably has PTSD and didn't want to wait. A soldier needs a VERY good reason to get out after 15 years. Maybe he had a job lined up (there are some high paying positions available for men of his skillset), but if the medical issues are true, then I think it's more likely he has PTSD and just wanted to get out of the military.

I really hope he applies for benefits that he is owed. This country owns him more than we could ever pay.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

No reward for killing terrorists, huh.  Something's amiss here.

RoccoJohnson
RoccoJohnson

@nflfoghorn 

It would've been more beneficial to Bush to kill bin Laden near the election, not keep him alive. I wasn't a Bush supporter, but in all fairness it was Bill Clinton who was offered bin Laden's head on a platter three times, but took a pass.

jeebuzz
jeebuzz

@mtngoatjoe @DonQuixotic 

Sure, they would have kept him on active duty while waiting for the med board and it tends to take one to two years or so.  However, it's not like they would have deployed him or had him engage in field training or anything stressful during that time.  He would get a permanent profile with extensive duty limitations, and he would be able to attend medical appointments the whole duty day if needed.  It seems quite foolish to me to just ETS without going through that process.  

Also, the military requires service members to go through a medical evaluation whenever they ETS to make sure that the very thing reported on in this article doesn't happen.  If the doctor doing that medical evaluation finds that the service member requires a medical retirement, he/she will initiate that.  I get the feeling we're not getting the whole story in this article because as a former military medical provider, this just doesn't sound right to me.

sacredh
sacredh

"My guess is that he just wanted out. He just wanted to be done and try to move on with his life."

.

That's what it sounds like to me too. I work with mostly ex-military and they recieve benefits. You have to apply for them and go through the process though.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

@RoccoJohnson @nflfoghorn FactCheck referred to the worthiness of OBL as a "get" at the time Clinton dealt with him.  There was no proof that we knew back in the '90s BL was plotting to kill thousands of Americans on our soil.  If you're going to try to take him out retroactively, have at it.

My contention is that W could have used BL as a bogeyman.  I'm sure you recall all those times that his administration insisted that if you don't support the Patriot Act, if  you don't get behind invading Iraq, if you don't take out Saddam you're not an American.  No, I can't prove it.  But if it ever comes out that W and his minions did indeed know where BL was and chose not to bring him to justice, then there's a special place in hell for them.

RoccoJohnson
RoccoJohnson

@nflfoghorn

With all due respect, FactCheck.org's answer to whether bin Laden was offered to Clinton was "Probably not," rather than absolutely not. I don't disagree with them that the complete truth may never be known, however, because in the end it comes down to who one chooses to believe, which likely will rest on their party affiliation. 

One point I'd like to make is that FactCheck.org's answer is only in response to the question of whether bin Laden was offered up in 1996, not later in '98 or '99. Hank Crumpton, Former Deputy Director of the CIA'S Counter-Terrorism Center, in an interview with both Charlie Rose, and 60-Minutes, on another occasion, spoke about the CIA's involvement in offering bin Laden to Clinton in the latter years, and has said categorically that the Clinton administration's response was "no" when offered the chance to take bin Laden out.

I don't want to go back and forth with you, each of us trying to convince the other of our version of the truth, as I said, I was not a Bush supporter, so I have no political agenda in trying to defend him, my only interest is in trying to know the facts to the best I'm able. 

mtngoatjoe
mtngoatjoe

@jeebuzz  @DonQuixoticI don't disagree with anything you've said. I think you're spot on about the process. But as was pointed out earlier is that soldiers with PTSD don't always do what is in their best interest. They don't always apply for benefits, and once they've made their mind up about something (like leaving after 15 years), there's no slowing them down.

We can't force this soldier to do what is best for himself. All we can do is encourage him to get help. As a nation, we own him a debt that demands from us the very best medical care money can buy. We'll never offer that, of course, but even so, we can't make him accept what we do offer.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Agreed. 

ANTI-PAULIE PEANUT GALLERY ALERT: This in no way excuses Dorner's presumed acts. This is a real-life Rambo situation IMO. 

sacredh
sacredh

We're failing in our follow up efforts to help our vets. They put everything on the line and deserve better.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Inadvertently, you've just described Dorner to a T.

sacredh
sacredh

PTSD can leave a person functioning at a high level but still subject to problems that precludes always acting in their own best interests. I've known some vets that felt that they weren't getting the help that they needed but never took any steps to receive help. They felt that people should just "know" that they needed help. They felt persecuted and ignored by people or the government that were withholding help. The bottom line is that they can't be forced to take the necessary steps unless their actions are such that they become a danger to themselves or to others. Then it's often too late.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

What if he's not in a state of mind to apply based on his experiences?  Seems to me someone should take care of him based on what he (presumably) did.

sacredh
sacredh

nfl, I work with guys that served 4 years and then got out. They get benefits, but like I said, you have to apply for the benefits and go through the process. They're not automatic. The paperwork has to move through the channels and get approved. I can't imagine him not getting approved with the physical problems that he has.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Something's just wrong when Joe Flacco stands to make million$ and the guy who offed World Public Enemy #1 can't get squat. 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,104 other followers