This is no time to be a hero. I avoided this story all Monday because it’s such a sad commentary on how we treat our warrior heroes.
On the day we laid to rest Chris Kyle, the nation’s most successful sniper, we learned from a magazine article that the country has abandoned the man who says he killed Osama bin Laden.
Both were Navy SEALs, both were heroes.
A year and a half after SEAL Team Six launched its raid on bin Laden’s compound, the now-retired SEAL who says he’s the one who pulled the trigger is claiming the military left him and his family to fend for themselves once he retired four years short of 20 years in service.
Now he’s fighting a different battle. His body paid the toll of thousands of high altitude low opening jumps, deep-water dives and mud crawls, and he couldn’t keep at it four more years. So he’s lost his federal health insurance and any right to a pension.
The investigative reporter who wrote the piece checked the guy’s story out six ways from Sunday and he’s convinced — he’s the one who got bin Laden. His team mates call him “Shooter.”
Meanwhile, the man who continues to take credit for the bin Laden killing is living in the White House, feeding on Kobe beef and brushing up on his golf game.
According to the Esquire article:
The SEALs had nightscopes, but it was coal-black for bin Laden and the other residents. He can hear but he can’t see.
He looked confused. And way taller than I was expecting. He had a cap on and didn’t appear to be hit. I can’t tell you 100 percent, but he was standing and moving. 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’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 ten inches]. 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.
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?
NBC “Today Show” co-host Matt Lauer interviewed Phil Bronstein, the Esquire magazine writer who wrote the spellbinding tale of the last person to have seen Osama bin Laden alive. In the following clip, Bronstein talks about the Esquire story.
Read the full article at Esquire.
According to Stars and Stripes, the Navy SEAL only identified as “the shooter” in the Esquire article, is in fact entitled to medical coverage for five years after leaving the service. The Stars and Stripes article continues:
The writer, Phil Bronstein, who heads up the Center for Investigative Reporting, stands by the story. He said the assertion that the government gave the SEAL “nothing” in terms of health care is both fair and accurate, because the SEAL didn’t know the VA benefits existed.
“No one ever told him that this is available,” Bronstein said, according to the military publication.
American hero receives Medal of Honor in emotional ceremony
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