Veterans share thoughts on Bin Laden's death

Brett Rheinschmidt

Brett Rheinschmidt will never forget the moment he heard the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed by U.S. troops.

Sitting on his brown couch watching the 10 p.m. Sunday newscast on CBS with his wife, Barbara, and his 11-year-old son, Cameron, Rheinschmidt was skeptical of the alerts scrolling across his television screen announcing the terrorist had been killed in a U.S. operation launched Sunday night in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

"I didn't believe it at first. It had already been a decade," said Rheinschmidt, a Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran. "We just sat there and waited as the events unfolded."

It was not until President Obama stepped up to the lectern and confirmed the terrorist's death in a televised address that the moment became real for Rheinschmidt and his family.

"There was a sense of relief that came over me," said Rheinschmidt as he described his tearful reaction to the news. "All I could think is, 'Wow, they finally got him.'"

News of bin Laden's death was something veterans like Rheinschmidt, 28, had been waiting 10 years, seven months and 20 days to hear.

Having served in the U.S. Army from 2002 to 2005 before being honorably discharged, Rheinschmidt knows the troubles associated with executing a mission as dangerous and important as the one that led troops to bin Laden without any major U.S. casualties.

"This is a great day in America," said Rheinschmidt. "There is a great sense of victory that I can safely say most veterans and those serving have to know that the man responsible for the attacks against the United States has finally had his justice served."

Additionally, Sabastian Vasquez, 28, who also served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, shared his thoughts on the capture and killing of bin Laden.

"This is an unofficial American holiday," said Vasquez, a Tivoli resident. "I just think about all the families that finally have a piece of mind now."

Although Vasquez was pleased with the stealth execution of the mission, he was not pleased with President Obama's speech about the mission.

"It sounded like he was the one who was jumping out of the helicopters himself," said Vasquez. "But that's politics."

Now that bin Laden is no longer a threat, Vasquez shared his thoughts on where U.S. military should be concentrating their efforts.

"I feel like we can downsize. There are a lot of problems that need to be handled at home. You got to help yourself before you can help others," he said.

News of bin Laden's death also resonated with older veterans.

"They should have got him sooner," said 77-year-old Korean War veteran Gene Migura. "But I'm glad it's over with."

The concerns of retaliation did nothing to put a damper on Jim Friedel as he celebrated the successful mission.

"It's a tribute to the servicemen that have been fighting for so long to finally capture him," said Friedel, second vice commander of the Korean War Veterans Council." It appears to be bringing our country back together like 9/11, which is a good thing. Instead of being divided and looking for things to contradict each other, it is bringing us together."