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

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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.


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.