The pep talk of SEAL Team 6

February, 11, 2013
2/11/13
1:03
PM ET
Abbott By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com
Archive
You may have heard there's a vivid new account of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

It is based on the account of an anonymous former SEAL who is said to be the one who killed bin Laden and loaded with all kinds of things you couldn't have learned from Zero Dark Thirty.

Metallica, the real band, asked the military to stop using their music to soften up interrogation subjects. In bin Laden's house, one thing they found was massive bags of raw opium.

And, what kind of pep talk do you give military personnel embarking on a mission so perilous they fully expect to die?

One from Hoosiers, it turns out. Phil Bronstein wrote this amazing account, based on the testimony of an as-yet-unnamed retired Naval SEAL.
... word came to Vice Admiral William McRaven, head of Joint Special Operations Command. The mission was on, originally for April 30, the night of the White House Correspondents' dinner in Washington.

McRaven figured it would look bad if all sorts of officials got up and left the dinner in front of the press. So he came up with a cover story about the weather so we could launch on Sunday, May 1, instead.

There was one last briefing and an awesome speech from McRaven comparing the looming raid and its fighters to the movie Hoosiers.

Then they're gathered by a fire pit, suiting up. Just before he got on the chopper to leave for Abbottabad, the Shooter called his dad. I didn't know where he was, but I found out later he was in a Walmart parking lot. I said, "Hey, it's time to go to work," and I'm thinking, I'm calling for the last time. I thought there was a good chance of dying.

He knew something significant was up, though he didn't know what. The Shooter could hear him start to tear up. He told me later that he sat in his pickup in that parking lot for an hour and couldn't get out of the car.

The Red Team and members of the other squad hugged one another instead of the usual handshakes before they boarded their separate aircraft. The hangars had huge stadium lights pointing outward so no one from the outside could see what was going on.

I took one last piss on the bushes.

Ninety minutes in the chopper to get from Jalalabad to Abbottabad.

Henry Abbott | email

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