Oh how the political winds can change a person, especially a sitting president in an election year.
During the hotly-contested 2008 Democratic primary, Barack Obama was critical of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for using an advertisement about Osama bin Laden to score "political points."
Now, four years later, the Obama campaign has created its own ad about the president giving the order to kill bin Laden, while hinting that Mitt Romney would not have given the order to pull the trigger if he was in command that day at the White House.
The ad and comments from Obama himself have drawn criticism, not only from Republican rivals but from some Navy SEALS, the famed warriors responsible for that daring raid in Afghanistan one year ago.
While he applauded Obama for making the decision, Ryan Zinke, a former Navy commander who spent 23 years as a SEAL, said he "would not overly pat myself on the back for making the right call." He called Obama's decision to pull the trigger on bin Laden – something the ad narrator and former President Clinton missed the opportunity to do while he was in office – "a no brainer."
The wheels for a joint SEAL and CIA operation to find and eliminate bin Laden were in motion years before Obama took office. After Obama confirmed bin Laden's death last year, he originally stated that a "small team" of Americans undertook the operation to take the terrorist leader out. It was the intense media coverage that finally credited the SEAL community.
Since President George W. Bush engaged in the War on Terror after the attacks of 9-11-01, SEALs have been active in land-based operations. A cousin of mine recently introduced me to the inspiring story of Mike Monsoor, who was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously by President Bush in a ceremony at the White House on April 8, 2008
Monsoor, a Navy SEAL assigned to Task Unit Bravo, was killed in the line of duty while serving in Iraq on September 29, 2006. He died after throwing himself on a grenade to prevent it from killing others whom he had been assigned to protect on a rooftop.
The story of Monsoor's supreme sacrifice was later told by a 28-year-old lieutenant, who sustained shrapnel wounds to both legs that day and credited Monsoor with saving his life
"He never took his eye off the grenade – his only movement was down toward it. He undoubtedly saved mine and the other SEALs' lives, and we owe him," the officer said.
Monsoor's funeral on Oct. 12, 2006 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, was an amazing tribute to a fallen comrade in arms.
As his coffin was being moved from the hearse to the grave site, SEALs lined both sides of the pallbearers route, with the coffin moving up the center. As Monsoor's coffin passed, each SEAL removed his gold Trident, a U.S. Navy special warfare badge representing the three aspects of SEAL special operations – sea, air, and land – from his uniform
Each SEAL teammate slapped the badge down, embedding the Trident badge in the wooden coffin. These slaps could be heard from across the cemetery and when the coffin reached the grave site, it looked as if it had a gold inlay because of all the Tridents pinned to it.
Being part of the Navy SEALs' brotherhood obviously means much more than a badge, press clippings or political polls.
By Jim Zbick