ORLANDO — When the news broke of the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. Special Forces striking inside Pakistan, the first thing Dexter Miller did was smile, nod his head, and offer a salute to the men and women of the Navy SEALS.
“When I heard it was the Navy SEALS, I was tickled,” Miller said.
Twenty to 25 U.S. Navy SEALS under the command of the joint Special Operations Command, in cooperation with the CIA, stormed the compound where bin Laden was hiding.
It was a victory that the United States had been waiting for since bin Laden took credit for having been the mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon Building in Washington, D.C., which killed thousands of innocent people.
Miller, the co-host of The Freeline Media Hour, served in the U.S. Navy from 1964 until 1967, where he was stationed in Vietnam. Miller said during his time in the Navy, it was always clear to everyone he served with that if any unit would get the toughest jobs done, it was the SEALS, a special force created by President John F. Kennedy in 1962.
“They were only two years old when I got in the Navy,” he said.
The SEALS were formed to conduct unconventional warfare, he noted, and had a reputation for being up to even the most dangerous tasks.
“They always get stuff done when no one else can,” Miller said. “Not some of the time – always. I’ve always thought the SEALS were the most elite group.”
The hunt for Bin Laden has gone on for a decade, and it was the Navy SEALS that led the operation at the Islamabad compound, where bin Laden was shot in the head. The Seal Team Six launched the assult from helicopters after training for several months.
“To hear that the SEALS came back and got him this morning is a great thing,” Miller said. “When I was in Vietnam, there were two groups no one messed with. One was the ROK – Republic of Korea Army, and the other was the Navy SEALS. Everybody left those two groups alone. Nobody messed with them, nobody tried to taunt them – nothing.”
Mel Dahl, who serves on the board of directors for Mensa, representing the national organization’s Florida chapter, served in the Navy from 1980 until 1982. He recalled how challenging it was to get accepted into this special unit.
“It’s highly competitive,” Dahl said. “It’s very, very dififuclt to get into the unit. You have to be very fit, both intellectually and physically, to get in. They go through a very intense training period, and they’re the elite people who do special missions.”
David Raith, who served in the Marine Corp and is a contributor to Freeline Media Orlando, noted how critical the hunt for bin Laden was for the psyche of the United States after 9-11.
“This guy lost all his human rights when he killed thousands of innocent people,” Raith said. “He’s caused the most destruction in the past 10 years. We’ve been hunting him for more than 10 years.”
The Navy SEALS, he said, were the obvious choice to complete the job.
“They’re the elite unit out there,” he said.
Miller said the Navy SEALS typically go through an intense seven week training period that quickly weeds out those who are not up to the rigors of this unit.
“They’re physically fit, no question about that,” he said. “They’re great with rifles – everything. It is unbelievable what they have to do. Part of the final exam is they go into the middle of this mostly open field to the edge of the woods. The proctors of the exam are standing on this elevated platform, so they can oversee everything going on in those 400 yards.
“A SEAL,” he added, “has to leave the edge of the woods with a silenced handgun,” Miller added, “and he’s got to get close enough to take a shot at the bell that’s attached to that platform, and do it so that the proctors have no idea where the shot came from. And then they’ve got to get back to the protection of the woods without being seen. They have to lie still for hugely long hours. They have to make themselves a part of the landscape. If they don’t, they don’t pass. The six to seven week training to become a SEAL would kill most men.”
Just watching the media coverage of bin Laden’s death, he said, convinced him that the SEALS – which stands for Sea, Air and Land – were the ones to tackle a mission that seemed to many observers to be a nearly impossible job.
“Did you hear they had to get over a 12-foot wall covered with barbed wire to get in? They’re bad,” Miller said. “Even though I wasn’t a SEAL, I’m proud to have been in the Navy and to have known them.”
And, he added, to know that they were the ones who finally ended bin Laden’s reign of terror.
“Scaling a wall covered with barbed wire and getting into the compound, that’s a piece of cake for the Navy SEALS,” Raith said. “That’s what they’re supposed to do.”
The SEALS, Raith added, actually start out training in BUDS — Basic Underwater Demolition School. If they pass, they move on to more advanced SEALS training.
“You have to be selected for it,” Raith said. “Nine times out of 10, they come to you, and say ‘Hey, we want you to make it through BUDS.’ ”
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