In a post–Zero Dark Thirty and No Easy Day world, Esquire has published the predictably dark (but even more somber than you’d think) story of the Navy SEAL who shot Osama bin Laden in the face three times. Identified only as “the Shooter,” the man is broken down both literally (“scar tissue, arthritis, tendonitis, eye damage, and blown disks”) and spiritually, having retired from the Navy after sixteen years with few career prospects and a lot of fear: “No pension, no health care, and no protection for himself or his family.” The best he can do is crack some dirty jokes.
Writer Phil Bronstein explains that Bin Laden has a Voldemort/”He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” thing to the Shooter, who warned his kids to never mention the name “to anybody. It’s a bad name, a curse name.” Instead, they’ve taken to calling him “Poopyface” and referring derisively to “Crapghanistan.”
The humorous coping mechanisms mask a legitimate paranoia or at least preparedness:
Since Abbottabad, he has trained his children to hide in their bathtub at the first sign of a problem as the safest, most fortified place in their house. His wife is familiar enough with the shotgun on their armoire to use it. She knows to sit on the bed, the weapon’s butt braced against the wall, and precisely what angle to shoot out through the bedroom door, if necessary. A knife is also on the dresser should she need a backup.
Then there is the “bolt” bag of clothes, food, and other provisions for the family meant to last them two weeks in hiding. […]
“We’re actually looking into changing my name,” the wife says. “Changing the kids’ names, taking my husband’s name off the house, paying off our cars. Essentially deleting him from our lives, but for safety reasons. We still love each other.”
The Shooter, who had $350 Prada sunglasses and a bottle of his own piss on him when he fired the fatal shots, doesn’t have much to look forward to. He left service early, after a final four-month deployment to Afghanistan, so he doesn’t receive a pension. “My health care for me and my family stopped at midnight Friday night,” he says. “I asked if there was some transition from my Tricare to Blue Cross Blue Shield. They said no. You’re out of the service, your coverage is over. Thanks for your sixteen years. Go fuck yourself.”
Witness protection was an option (“They told me they could get me a job driving a beer truck in Milwaukee”) but not a very good one, and video-game-makers have just about all the consultants they need, so the Shooter is considering selling customized sunglasses and other SEAL-type accessories. The obvious path would be private security, but the Shooter is just about finished being identified as such and doesn’t want to use a gun again: “I’ve fought all the fights,” he tells Bronstein. “I don’t have a need for excitement anymore. Honestly.”
All the rest, including some more crude humor, is at Esquire.