60 Minutes: Navy SEAL Team 6 Choppers & Shooting Osama Bin Laden

60 Minutes: Navy SEAL Mark Owen

Mark Owen, a retired member of the Navy SEAL Team 6, has told his story of the stunning conclusion to the Osama Bin Laden raid in the book No Easy Day. He also gave his only interview to Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes, including the extensive SEAL training that prepared him and his teammates for their critical mission.

60 Minutes: SEAL Team 6 Coordination

Scott Pelley recalled that the 24-member SEAL team initially planned to enter via the roof and the courtyard. But the helicopter crash meant the plan had to change very quickly. Good thing they had rehearsed for this contingency.

The helicopter fell against the courtyard wall, with the strongest part bracing on the wall. Inches of difference could have made for a very different story. Mark Owen admitted that it was a combination of luck and the skill of the trained pilots.

60 Minutes: Bin Laden SEAL Choppers

60 Minutes: Navy SEAL Team 6 Choppers & Shooting Osama Bin Laden

60 Minutes profiled a member of Seal Team 6 about infiltrating a Pakistani compound in 2011 and a firefight that ultimately led to shooting Osama Bin Laden. (Carolina K. Smith MD / Shutterstock.com)

But there was still another helicopter coming behind them. The backup team was prepared to adjust the plan and do what they had to do to get the job done. Though the entire mission was to clock in at 30 minutes, Owen and his team were walled off from the house.

The first group of men headed for the house’s front door, while the second chopper dropped its 12 men outside the compound and flew away into the night. The first objective was to clear and secure an outbuilding before taking on the main house.

Mark Owen said that the keys to being a SEAL are “shoot, move, and communicate.” That means that each of them are trained to think on their feet and coordinate in situations just like this.

60 Minutes: Bin Laden Compound Firefight

Given all the noise and time that had transpired, the SEALs knew they were losing the element of surprise. As they prepared to clear the outbuilding, shots began to fire through the door. The SEALs returned fire, despite limited visibility.

One of the SEALs spoke Arabic and a woman came out of the building with children. The SEALs had already killed the only man inside. Owen sustained a shoulder wound in the firefight, and a pair of bolt cutters on his pack intercepted a bullet, but the building was secured.

As additional members of the team entered the compound, it was time to take the main house. A second armed courier was being protected by his wife. “You typically don’t see the women that are this aggressive and hostile,” Owen said, recalling his combat experiences in Afghanistan.

60 Minutes: Bin Laden Son Khalid

As the team secured the first floor, they headed for the building’s third floor. Owen was behind the point man, in second position as the raid continued. It was dark and quiet as they made their way up the stairs.

They expected to encounter Bin Laden’s son on the second floor. When the point man spotted a head, he whispered Khalid’s name. As the man stuck his head back around the corner, the point man shot him.

“It’s not like the movies,” Owen said of his experience in the Bin Laden raid. “It was quiet, calm…. We have a saying: ‘Don’t run to your death.’”

60 Minutes: Shooting Osama Bin Laden

The point man in front of Mark Owen spotted another head and took out a second target. In the room, they spotted two females hovering over the body. The point man grabbed both women and put them against the far wall in case they were armed with suicide vests.

Owen and the man behind him fired at the man more times in the dark before clearing the room and moving ahead. It turned out the man they were shooting was that of Osama Bin Laden, whom they did not recognize.

60 Minutes: Killing Bin Laden

According to Owen, they had no idea who they were firing at in the dark room. With 20 minutes ticking by on the clock, they knew that their remaining helicopter would eventually run out of gas. They had to complete the mission before the Pakistani military intervened as well. How would they make it out in time?

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About the author

Pat Howard is a writer from St. Louis. He was born with a remote control in his hand, and is grateful to finally have a haven at Recapo for his pathological love of daytime television.

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