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Former Navy SEALs React To Bin Laden Operation

Former Navy SEALs React To Bin Laden Operation

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Atlanta Journal Constitution via YellowBrix

May 03, 2011

ATLANTA – Former Navy SEALs in the metro area could puff their chests out a little bit Monday as a rare public spotlight shone on the elite, but secretive, unit.

“I’ve had a SEAL team T-shirt in my closet for five years, and I have never worn it. I put it on this morning," said Rusty Redding, a Vietnam-era SEAL who lives in north Atlanta.

SEAL Team 6 was unit credited with killing Osama bin Laden in a firefight early Monday outside of Abbottabad, Pakistan, ending nearly a decade-long manhunt for the al-Qaida chieftain. Several retired SEALs said they were not shocked the team got the assignment, although some were surprised that fact became public.

“We’re extremely proud that it was the SEALs who got to pull off that op," said Fred Fritsh, a chiropractor in Woodstock who spent 24 years as a SEAL and whose son is a SEAL. “All the SEAL teams and a lot of the special forces teams have been carrying out missions similar to that. They just aren’t that high visibility, but they are in harm’s way.”

“I was surprised to hear the news mention it was SEAL Team 6,” said Dante Stephensen, owner of Dante’s Down the Hatch restaurant. “We don’t normally talk about things like this.”

Stephensen was selected to serve on one of the original SEALs teams in 1962. Their existence was so closely guarded that most Americans never heard of the unit until a Reader’s Digest story on their intense training techniques appeared several years later, he said.

Even today SEALs are better known for their tough training than for the work they do. Brad McLeod, an environmental consultant in Sandy Springs, served in the Navy from 1982 until 1987 and went through the training twice after bombing a math test his first time.

The second time he passed the exam and served all but a year of his naval career in the SEALs.

“It was just something I really wanted to do,” he said. “It’s something I live with today and take a lot of pride in.”

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Former Georgia Public Safety Commissioner Robert Hightower was a Navy frogman — the precursor to the SEALs — in the 1950s. He said he is glad the public knows who brought bin Laden down.

“I think it’s good for them. Sometimes you know too little about them," he said.

McLeod went to bed early Sunday night, missing the news and President Obama’s speech. When he woke up his iPhone was buzzing with texts and e-mails from service buddies.

“I hadn’t had a cup of coffee yet and saw a text message that said, ‘They finally got him,’" he said. “I thought, what did that mean?”

McLeod caught up quickly and praised the president for using the SEALS instead of an unmanned drone to get bin Laden.

“It was courageous to use the most surgical kind of removement. I applaud his decision,” he said. “These guys have been practicing this type of mission. That’s what they do every day, practice for these types of missions.”

Several former SEALs pointed out that the training was important to the success of the mission, which reportedly took about 40 minutes.

“The fact that it went so smoothly is a testament to the training that we go through,” Stephensen said.

  • Sharon_max50


    over 3 years ago


    I was friends with and an acquaintance of a number of Seals and Frogmen in Virginia Beach beween 1967 and 1972. They are a great buch of guys who would give a friend the shirt off of their backs, but you definitely did not mess with them. They knew their stuff and knew it well. I lost several Seal friends during the Vietnam era and was fortunate enough to have known a recipient of the Medal of Honor and one who received the Navy Cross. These men are courageous, tough, and dedicated and they deserve every accolade for this job well done. Thank you Seal Team.

  • 1979_max50


    over 3 years ago


    BTW, I am not saying that any of the people identified in this article is not a real deal SEAL. I know that Dante is and have to believe that the others are lest the wrath of the SEALs come down on them.
    I am VERY proud of our Navy SEALs. Of course I have been since 1968 after knowing what they did in Vietnam.
    I have heard that some people think the SEAL or the group that hit the ground will all get medals, money, or even new Identities to protect them. That is laughable. They do not do their jobs for Glory or medals. They do it because they know they are the only ones that can. They also will not ever publicize which one took the shot and the actual ID of the entire group that entered his chambers will not be reported, maybe even to the President! They will simply be known as Seal Team Six, as they are a team.

  • In_remembrance_of_oakland_pd_max50_max50_max50_max50_max50


    over 3 years ago


    These honorable warriors have shown the world what they are capable of when tasked with a high importance mission. They have made this country proud and thanlfull for their many sacrifices they have made for this country.

  • Maa_class_badge_max50


    over 3 years ago


    from one Navy man to another- Great job SEALS!!!- Go NAVY!!!!

  • 1979_max50


    over 3 years ago


    You will see a number of people who will claim to be former SEALs who did not earn the "budweiser" pop up now that the SEALs are back in the news. There are not that many of them and these are some really tough and honorable guys. Warning to those that think they can claim the title of US Navy SEAL, you might run into one who will frankly immediately know you are not who you say you are. The consequences are not pretty.
    To the US Navy SEALs, Ya done good. I hope the two SEALs that I knew well back in the 70's are still alive to see this.

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