The Navy SEAL Team Six "shooter" who put two rounds into Osama bin Laden's forehead May 2, 2011, is jobless, struggling to pay basic bills and has been offered no protection from the retaliation he anticipates from al Qaeda, according to his first interview.
Only described as "the shooter" by Esquire, he also charges that the SEAL who recently wrote a book about the raid, celebrated in the new movie Zero Dark Thirty, glossed over the shooter's role in promoting his own shot at the corpse of bin Laden.
The long article in the upcoming magazine said that the shooter came forward to talk about the raid to bring attention to the lack of support offered by the Pentagon or administration for troops once they come home.
Esquire said its story "reveals untold, unforgettable details of the historic nighttime raid in May, 2011 at bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and stands as the definitive account of what happened there that night. It also 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."
The shooter doesn't allow himself to be identified for two reasons: It's SEAL etiquette not to take credit away from the team, and he's worried about his and his family's safety.
But he is interviewed to make two points: Clear up details about the raid and make the case for better support for the troops.
When it comes to helping returning troops, the shooter suggests he's been ignored and calls that an insult to his 16 years in the Navy. Among this key complaints: He's jobless, he has no medical insurance, no pension, no help transitioning to civilian life, and no security. The magazine notes that had he "stayed in for 20 years, he would have been eligible for a pension of $2197.00 per month, the same pension as a member of the Navy choir."
On the mission, the shooter said that the movie Zero Dark Thirty was fairly accurate, though nobody yelled up the stairs for bin Laden.
He described his encounter with bin Laden:
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? This is real and that's him. Holy sh--.
Everybody wanted him dead, but nobody wanted to say, Hey, you're going to kill this guy. It was just sort of understood that's what we wanted to do.
And he added one interesting detail: If captured by Pakistani troops, Vice President Biden was to negotiate their release.
The group discussed what would happen if they were surrounded by Pakistani troops. We would surrender. The original plan was to have Vice-President Biden fly to Islamabad and negotiate our release with Pakistan's president.