The level of detail Owen provides is amazing, from mopping blood from bin Laden’s face before he snapped forensic photos of the corpse of the most wanted man in the world, to the meticulous planning that went into the assault. The book goes on sale next week, but if you can’t wait that long, here are a few more tidbits to tide you over.
Chick lit for guys
Forget the Manolos and Chanel handbags -- this book is fully loaded with real-life gear porn. Read this and you’ll know what kind of boots Owen prefers, the types of knives he packs when heading out, the various firearms he uses to ventilate terrorists, and how much more awesome his gear is compared to anything you’ll ever get to strap on. His night-vision goggles alone run $65,000. His helmet can stop a 9mm slug. A page-long rundown of Owen’s personal armory includes lines like, “I also set up my fourteen-inch H&K 416 with an infrared laser and clip-on thermal sight that allowed for more precise night shooting.”
Osama was [vain and wimpy]
Owen’s account of the raid confirms Peter L. Bergen’s report in Manhunt, that bin Laden used Just For Men hair dye to color his beard, and apparently had just done a color treatment before the raid: the SEALs had a hard time recognizing bin Laden at first, as he looked too young. Also, the two guns found in bin Laden’s room were unloaded, and he didn’t even try to get a shot off at the approaching commandos, prompting this observation: “In all of my deployments, we routinely saw this phenomenon. The higher up the food chain the targeted individual was, the bigger a [wimp] he was.”
SEALs: They’re just like us
“Dude” shows up so often you’d think Jeff Spicoli polished the dialogue. Upon returning to the states after the historic mission, one SEAL mowed his lawn. Another slipped straight back into domestic routines with his wife and young child. Owen treated himself to a Taco Bell dinner and ate it in his truck in the parking lot on the way home. Also, they’re not the clean-shaven, high-and-tight types these days. One looked like “a taller version of Gimli, the angry dwarf in The Lord of the Rings.” Another like “an Amish guy with a bowl haircut and a patchy beard that never seemed to grow together.”
Mark Owen -- bookish
What made Owen, who pumped a few rounds into a dying bin Laden’s chest, want to become a SEAL? A novel, Men in Green Faces by Gene Wentz, about a group of SEALs operating in Vietnam. Owen wrote a book report on it in junior high and knew from “page one” that he wanted to be a SEAL.
Mission: Set the Record Straight
Every public account of the raid has been inaccurate, Owen writes, “even reports claiming to have the inside story.” He retired less than a year after bin Laden’s death, and, disgusted with the misconceptions about and the politicization of the raid, got to work on the book. While it details his life story -- his childhood in Alaska, his SEAL training and missions (including the rescue of captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates) -- Owen says the book is about the team: “I only used my life as a way to describe what it is like to be part of such a special unit,” he writes. And, yes, he is being paid for his story, but most of the book’s proceeds are being donated to charity.
The book will be released on September 4, 2012. My wife has already asked me to preorder a copy.