The US Navy Seal who claims to have killed Osama bin Laden has described shooting him in the head and how he is now a civilian struggling to survive.
In a 15,000 word piece published in Esquire magazine, the soldier describes his jubilation but also the personal cost he has since suffered.
''I shot him, two times in the forehead. Bap! Bap! The second time as he's going down. He crumpled on to the floor in front of his bed and I hit him again, Bap! same place.''
The man was part of Seal Team Six, which was tasked with flying into Pakistan and killing the al Qaeda leader at his hideout nearly two years ago. He told the magazine he was the only one to shoot bin Laden. He entered bin Laden's third-storey bedroom and saw the terror chief move across the room, while holding on to one of his wives, towards an AK47 rifle.
"He looked confused. And way taller than I was expecting... he was holding her in front of him. Maybe as a shield, I don't know. For me, it was a snapshot of a target ID, definitely him... that's him, boom, done.
"I thought in that first instant how skinny he was, how tall and how short his beard was, all at once. He was wearing one of those white hats, but he had, like, an almost shaved head. Like a crew cut. I remember all that registering.
"In that second, I shot him, two times in the forehead. Bap! Bap! The second time as he's going down. He crumpled on to the floor in front of his bed and I hit him again, Bap! same place.
''He was dead. Not moving. His tongue was out. I watched him take his last breaths, just a reflex breath."
It was over in 15 seconds. He said most of the team thought they would die on the mission and had written farewell letters to their families.
The interview goes on to reveal the mental and physical price the man has since paid.
He was offered a place on witness protection, his job: delivering beer. He turned it down because he didn't want to lose contact with family and friends.
He had taken part in the interview because after 16 years' service he had no pension or health care. Only those with 20 years' service got the benefits.The soldier also talked about teaching his children to hide in the bath and his wife to use a shotgun out of fear of reprisal.
"He gave so much to his country, and now it seems he's left in the dust," his wife says.
"I feel there's no support, not just for my family but for other families in the community. I honestly have nobody I can go to or talk to. Nor do I feel my husband has gotten much for what he's accomplished in his career," she says.
- © Fairfax NZ News