Many stayed up late to watch as broadcasters reported information about the terrorist leader’s death.
Veteran Armando Musquez remembers vividly the day the World Trade Center fell.
“I cried,” the retired Navy pilot said. “You spend 20 years in the military and you get very patriotic.
“Like so many people, I would have rejoined in a New York minute.”
When he heard the news Sunday evening that the man linked to the attack had been killed, he felt relieved.
“I am so proud of our Navy SEALs,” he said. “I am retired Navy myself.
“I am glad it is over with.
“The SEAL team earned their money this time around.”
Musquez was at home when he heard the news reports coming in of the operation.
“I actually stayed up to watch the president’s announcement,” he said. “(President Barack) Obama did a good job in making that call.
“A lot of people didn’t think he would make that call but I am glad he did.
“It was just a relief.”
But he knows that this doesn’t mean the world is safe from terrorists.
“It doesn’t mean it is the end of terrorism,” he warned.
Joe Rodriguez said that he too was elated when he heard the news the following morning of bin Laden’s demise.
“Of course, everybody was elated and somewhat somber on the fact that we had been after this guy for years,” the Vietnam Veterans of America Post 929 president said.
“You know who gets the credit, it is the military. The SEALs trained for months to raid the compound... those guys were awesome. When you have a dangerous mission like this and you know you could lose the whole squad or more than that, it takes an elite process to come home safely.”
Like Musquez, Rodriguez remembers the events of Sept. 11 with vivid clarity.
“I was appalled when I heard they hit us from all directions,” he said. “Needless to say, the people we lost in the Twin Towers, it hurt us bad.
“The bombing of the Twin Towers in one way hurt us but proved we are survivors.”
The death of bin Laden, he said, brings a closure to tragedy.
“I am sure it is going to hurt al-Qaeda and the Taliban,” he said. “I am hoping they slack off and bring some type of peace to the Muslim community.
“Hopefully they will come to the table and say there has been enough fighting.
“That is what we need. We need peace.”
Rodriguez said that he hopes that the terrorists get the message America sent by bin Laden’s death.
“These guys are true to their word,” he said. “These guys mean business.”
A.C. Jones High School’s Junior ROTC advisor believes the death of bin Laden “was a long time coming.”
Lt. Col James Lovely is a Marine. But he’s in charge of the Naval ROTC unit at the high school. It is possible that some of the students in his courses could become Navy SEALs at some time in their lives.
“I’m not sure the burial at sea decision was good,” Lovely said.
Although it does keep other jihadists from using bin Laden’s grave as a rallying point for more terrorism, it fuels the minds of the world’s conspiracy theorists and some people will probably say for years that Osama is still alive.
But Lovely believes that taking down bin Laden is a good thing for many individuals. It could bring closure to a lot of people, especially those who had family and friends who died on 9/11.
Lovely said it is wise to expect some reprisals from the radical Islamists.
However, America’s military personnel serving outside the country are the most likely victims for that kind of attack.
Lovely said the effort to “cut the head off the snake” must continue and the military needs to keep pursuing and killing all the top members of al- Qaeda until the organization crumbles.
Capt. Robert Ferguson, retired former commanding officer of NAS Chase Field, agreed with Lovely when asked about killing bin Laden.
“It took a long, long time to do it,” Ferguson said
But getting Osama was something that had to be done, no matter how long it took.
“President Bush stood in the rubble at Ground Zero and said we were going to get the people who did this, no matter how long it takes,” Ferguson said.
“I’m very pleased to see that we used a SEAL team to do it,” the Navy man said. “And it was SEAL Team 6.”
“I don’t think it’s the end of anything,” Ferguson said. “But it’s a step in the right direction.”
Richard Rodriguez, a veteran of the U.S. Army, said that he hopes this will make it possible to bring more soldiers home so that no more soldiers have to die.
“Hopefully, this war will end fast and we can get those kids out of there. I saw enough of that in Vietnam and I don’t want to see it here,” he said.
Richard Rodriguez, like the other veterans, praised the military men and women for their work.
“I am proud of all the servicemen, whether it be the Army, Air Force, Navy or Marines,” he said.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.