What was it like to kill Osama Bin Laden?
Apparently "really awesome."
The Navy SEAL who killed Bin Laden in May 2011 — the events of which were portrayed by the recent film Zero Dark Thirty — has come out with a new interview outlining what he was thinking and what transpired during the covert raid in Pakistan.
And it's wild.
The human aspects ... the thought process, the simple actions, the point of view, the psychology ... are massively interesting (and actually match up nicely with the movie).
The Navy SEAL gives his story in "THE SHOOTER," this month's Esquire cover story.
Here is a excerpt from "The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden," by Phil Bronstein, former editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and now executive chairman of the Center for Investigative Reporting:
The SEAL Team 6 member, who retired in September, says that on the 90-minute chopper ride from Jalalabad to Abbottabad, he "was counting back and forth to a thousand to pass the time. ... I remember banking to the south, which meant we were getting ready to hit. We had about another 15 minutes. Instead of counting, for some reason I said to myself the George Bush 9/11 quote: 'Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended.' I could just hear his voice, and that was neat. I started saying it again and again to myself. Then I started to get pumped up. I'm like: This is so on. ... My biggest concern was having to piss really bad ... We actually had these things made for us, like a combination collapsible dog bowl and diaper. ... I used one of my water bottles instead. I forgot until later that when I shot bin Laden in the face, I had a bottle of piss in my pocket. ...
"My foot hit the ground and I was still running [the Bush quote] in my head. I don't care if I die right now. This is so awesome. There was concern, but no fear. I was carrying a big-ass sledgehammer to blow through a wall if we had to. There was a gate on the northeast corner and we went right to that. We put a breaching charge on it, clacked it, and the door peeled like a tin can. But it was a fake gate with a wall behind it. That was good, because we knew that someone was defending themselves. There's something good here. ... The compound was exactly the same. The mock-up had been dead-on. To actually be there and see the house with the three stories, the blacked-out windows, high walls, and barbed wire - and I'm actually in that security driveway with the carport, just like the satellite photos. I was like, This is really cool I'm here. ... We'd always assumed we'd be surrounded at some point. You see the videos of him walking around and he's got all those jihadis. But they weren't prepared. They got all complacent. ...
"I heard one of the guys talking about something, blah, blah, blah, the helo crashed. I asked, What helo crashed? He said it was in the yard. And I said, ... We're never getting out of here now. We have to kill this guy. I thought we'd have to steal cars and drive to Islamabad. ... I remember thinking then: I wish we could live through this night, because this is amazing. I was still expecting all kinds of funky shit like escape slides or safe rooms. The point man moved past doors on the second floor and the four or five guys in front of me started to peel off to clear those rooms, which is always how the flow works. ... Bin Laden was the only adult male left to find. ... On the third floor, there were two chicks yelling at us and the point man was yelling at them and he said to me, 'Hey, we need to get moving. These bitches is getting truculent.' I remember saying to myself, Truculent? Really? Love that word. ...
"I had my hand on the point man's shoulder and squeezed, a signal to go. ... On the third floor, he tackled the two women in the hallway right outside the first door on the right, moving them past it just enough. He thought he was going to absorb the blast of suicide vests; he was going to kill himself so I could get the shot. It was the most heroic thing I've ever seen. I rolled past him into the room, just inside the doorway. There was bin Laden standing there. He had his hands on a woman's shoulders, pushing her ahead ... He looked confused. And way taller than I was expecting. ... 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. ...
"He's got a gun on a shelf right there , the short AK he's famous for. And he's moving forward. I don't know if she's got a vest and she's being pushed to martyr them both. 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. ... Back at the Jalalabad base, we pulled bin Laden out of the bag ... While they were still checking the body, I brought the agency woman over. I still had all my stuff on. We looked down and I asked, 'Is that your guy?' She was crying. That's when I took my magazine out of my gun and gave it to her as a souvenir. Twenty-seven bullets left in it."
The SEAL told Esquire he decided to speak out to both correct the record of the Bin Laden mission and to put a spotlight on how some of the U.S. military's highly trained and accomplished soldiers are treated by the government once they return to civilian life. What he says about his return to civilian live is another reminder of the plights veterans face coming home ... even those who carried out some of the most intense and dangerous missions.
Despite killing the world's most-wanted terrorist, the SEAL said, he was not given a pension, health care ,or protection for himself or his family.
"[SEAL command] told me they could get me a job driving a beer truck in Milwaukee," he told Esquire.
Plus, he said, "my health care for me and my family stopped. I asked if there was some transition from my Tricare to Blue Cross Blue Shield. They said no. You're out of the service, your coverage is over. Thanks for your 16 years. Go f--- yourself."