The Navy SEAL who shot down three bullets in the head of Osama bin Laden is jobless, separated from his wife and believes he’s been abandoned by his government, according to a new report.
In a 15,000 word piece published in Esquire magazine, the soldier describes his jubilation but also the personal cost he has since suffered.
As well as never-before-heard details of the raid, the piece written by journalist Phil Bronstein offers a sobering portrait of life after the military and makes the case that the government largely abandons its most elite and highly-trained soldiers after their service is over.
He told Bronstein, “I left SEALs on Friday. My health care for me and my family stopped at midnight Friday night. 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.”
He reveals that, in the aftermath of the May 2011 raid, his marriage with his wife ended yet they have been forced to live together to save money.
Because the US government have given him nothing — no pension, no health care, no protection for his wife, children or him — he has had to teach them what to do if an attack should be made on their home.
He told his children to hide in their bathtub, as it is the safest, most fortified place in their house and trained his wife how to use their shotgun, with a ‘backup’ knife on the dresser.
In the piece, the soldier also describes in extraordinary detail the heart-stopping two minutes that changed the course of history. In the interview the SEAL describes the moment he came face to face with the al-Qaeda leader.
Once he locked eyes on his target, the SEAL remembers being surprised at his appearance. Bin Laden was much taller than he expected him to be — taller than any of their guys, and skinny with a short beard and shaved head.
He was holding his wife Amal in front of him as a shield and though he could see exactly what was going on through night vision goggles, bin Laden was in total darkness and could hear but not see.
He also said he feared she might try to blow them up. He added: “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]. 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 recalls. “He’s got a gun within reach. He’s a threat. I need to get a head shot so he won’ 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. 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 sh**.”