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Mary DeRosa: I turned to Nick and I said, “What’s Geronimo?” And he said, “That’s bin Laden.”
Jon Darby: When he said “Geronimo,” I was thinking, what does that mean? We didn’t know. But shortly after that, Admiral McRaven stated, “HVT number one,” and “EKIA.” High value target number, enemy killed in action. When he passed those words back over the air, going through my head is, “Wow, this is surreal. It worked. We got him.”
Letitia Long: Justice—justice had been done. It took me back to 9/11, to the families of our fallen. I thought about all the families.
Tom Donilon: The United States said after 9/11 that we would bring the perpetrators of this attack on the country to justice. It took years over the course of two administrations of the United States, and we executed on that promise.
John Brennan: There was no jubilation, no high fives or applause. We continue to just listen. It was a somber, solemn moment.
Bill Daley: The tension didn’t end just because we got him. You had one helicopter down, another helicopter that was already out of sight or very close to being out of sight. And now the big thing was to get them out and then all the way back to Afghanistan.
Adm. William McRaven: The ground force commander calls up and says, “Hey, we found a whole lot of intelligence on the second floor.” The initial plan was to keep the guys on the target for no more than 30 minutes. I’m looking at my watch thinking, “OK, all right. Gather up what you can.”
Leon Panetta: They had to put the body on the helicopter, get whatever intelligence they could that was in the compound, destroy the helicopter that was down because it was classified and they did not want it falling into the hands of the Pakistanis or, more importantly, the Chinese.
When the helicopter blew up, obviously, it then really woke up some of the villagers nearby, but the SEALs had posted patrols, and a dog named Cairo was part of the team that kept people from coming close to the compound.