Just about all of us know that “SEAL Team Six,” aka Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), were the ones who flew into Pakistan in the middle of the night and killed Osama bin Laden. Barack Obama was the sitting president and Admiral McCraven was the commanding officer of the Joint Special Operations Command at the time.
An extraordinary amount of training and preparation went into that mission and stress levels were high for all involved. The mission was a success. The SEAL team operators eliminated bin Laden in his compound in Abbottabad. They placed him in a body bag, loaded him up on the helos, and flew back to Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
Once the team returned to base, Admiral McRaven contacted Obama by video. McRaven and Obama knew that bin Laden was tall.
In Barack Obama’s new book A Promised Land, he writes, “McRaven explained that he was looking at the body as we spoke, and that in his [judgment] it was definitely bin Laden. To further confirm, McRaven had a 6’2″ member of his team lie next to the body to compare his height to bin Laden’s purported 6’4″ frame.”
“Seriously, Bill? All that planning and you couldn’t bring a tape measure?” Obama wrote. He recalled it was the first joking moment of the day.
McRaven recalls the events as well, in his book Sea Stories:
He and some other SEALs pulled bin Laden out of the bag. He was tall, just as they were expecting him to be. McRaven looked around and saw a tall sniper standing nearby. He asked him how tall he was. The SEAL said he was 6’2″.
McRaven replied, “Good. Lie down next to the body.”
Not sure what to do, the operator asked, “You want me to lie down next to the body?”
McRaven confirmed the request and the SEAL laid down next to bin Laden.
Speaking to Obama through the video, McRaven said, “Sir, I can’t be 100 percent sure until we do the DNA tests, but it certainly looks like him, and all the physical features match.”
McRaven went on to say, “While his face was contorted from the impact of the rounds, I did have a SEAL, who was over 6’2″, lie down beside the body, and the remains were at least 6’4″.”
As Admiral McRaven writes, after a few long moments, President Obama said to him, “So let me get this straight, Bill. We could afford a sixty-million-dollar helo, but we couldn’t afford a tape measure.”
Obama wrote in his book that when Admiral McRaven returned from Afghanistan, he came and visited him in the oval office. Of course, Obama gave him a “heartfelt thanks for his extraordinary leadership.” But, that wasn’t the only reward McRaven received… Obama presented him a tape measure, mounted on a plaque.
The original article for this story was published by Business Insider.