Bin Laden news hits home for local vets

Published 5:21 pm Monday, May 2, 2011

Americans have waited almost a decade to hear last night’s announcement, and local veterans say they couldn’t be more thrilled.
President Barack Obama announced Sunday, May 1, 2011 that Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces. Obama administrators announced yesterday that DNA evidence has proven that bin Laden is dead. His body was disposed of at sea.
Local veterans expressed their joy and relief that the terrorist leader responsible for thousands of American deaths on Sept. 11, 2001 was finally brought to justice.
Michael Reid, who has served two tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq with the U.S. Army over the last few years, said he was amazed when he heard the news.
“I’m relieved,” Reid said yesterday. “It’s a pretty huge milestone for America and anyone who has served.”
Polk County Manager Ryan Whitson, who is active with the Army Reserves, said he was elated when he heard the news.
Whitson said he wished it had been the Army that got bin Laden, but the Navy did an excellent job. It was an amazing accomplishment, Whitson said, that bin Laden was killed and there were no American soldier casualties.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Whitson said. “I’m very pleased and think it was well handled.”
Whitson said the Navy was smart to dump the body in the ocean. That way, he said, there is no place to become a shrine and it takes away the possibility of terrorists taking hostages in exchange for the body.
Scott Camp, who served in the Marines during WWII and in the Army in Korea, said he is glad bin Laden was finally found. Camp said he was beginning to have doubts it would ever happen.
“I think it’s a fine day myself,” Camp said. “It’s not going to stop terrorism, though. It might slow it down.”
Camp also said he figured bin Laden was in a high-class place since he was a millionaire.
Local WWII Army veteran Howard Greene also said he always believed bin Laden would be found in a hotel somewhere.
“We’re all tickled that this has happened,” said Greene.
Bin Laden’s decade on the run came to an end when elite American forces, Navy Seals, went by helicopter to a compound in Pakistan. Soldiers killed bin Laden, reportedly with a shot to the head. Also killed were bin Laden’s son, two other men and a woman that bin Laden used as a shield, according to national reports. There were no U.S. casualties.
Sunday night’s announcement, which interrupted the 11 p.m. news, came as a shock to Americans.
“The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaida and a terrorist responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children,” President Barack Obama announced.
The president said the images of 9/11 are “seared into the brains” of our national memory and “we will be relentless in the defense of our citizens.”
He gave thanks to the brave men who carried out the operation and addressed the families of 9/11 victims, saying, “We have never forgotten your loss.”
Obama ended his announcement by saying, “We can do these things not just because of wealth and power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Crowds have gathered all over the country, especially at the White House and at ground zero in Manhattan, N.Y.
Bin Laden’s body was quickly buried at sea. Obama said the remains were handled in accordance with Islamic custom, which requires a speedy burial.
American Legion Commander Mike Collins said he is thrilled to hear the news.
“I’m very thrilled they got him and even more thrilled they put him out to sea,” said Collins. “Muslims want you to bury them facing Mecca and he won’t have that opportunity.”
Collins served in Vietnam in the Army.
Some local veterans spoke of possible retaliations against the United States by terrorists.
“There will probably be retaliation world-wide, not just us,” Camp said.
Reid said he believes it could go either way. Terror leadership could be worried and take time to regroup, find another leader and retaliate later or there could be orders already in place, he said.
Reid said he has trained with the best of soldiers and doesn’t have a doubt in his mind the U.S. military will do everything possible to protect Americans.
Asked where he thought bin Laden had been for past almost 10 years, Reid said bin Laden was so experienced in hiding and moving, he doesn’t think he stayed anywhere very long. From his research, Reid said, bin Laden was always very secretive and moved around his whole life.
“I believe over time he’s gotten more bold,” said Reid. “I’m just glad we got him and it was in direct contact. As far as ideal situations, this was ideal.”

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