Former Navy SEAL, Hoover resident, reacts to SEALs’ involvement in bin Laden raid

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

HOOVER – Mike White heard the news of Osama bin Laden’s death late Sunday night.

He went to his bedroom to read, not knowing the circumstances behind the 9/11 mastermind’s demise.

How was bin Laden killed? CIA? Unmanned drone? A Pakistani mission, perhaps?

“Deep down in my heart, I was hoping that the frogmen had some kind of involvement in it,” White recalled Monday morning.

White’s dad called shortly thereafter with the news: the Navy SEALs, national news media was reporting, were involved in the operation that killed bin Laden.

“To hear that it was a squadron of SEALs, it was pretty cool,” White said. “I’m not going to lie to you, I was really proud to have been a part of that for so long.”

White was a Navy SEAL from 1986 to 1997, having graduated Basic Underwater Demolition Training – BUDS, as it’s known – with Class 151. He served on SEAL teams based on both coasts throughout his career, serving in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

White, who is now in the commercial real estate business, still has the Trident – the SEALs emblem – on the front of his car.

“It’s just one of those elite fraternities that I’m very pleased to be associated with,” White said. “When you hear about them pulling of something like this, the highest profile mission in United States history, at least in the last 60 years, you can just imagine how I feel.”

Through he’s been out of the Navy for nearly 14 years, White, who played football at the University of Alabama from 1980 to 1984, said he still feels like he’s a part of the SEAL community. He took “a lot of pride” in Sunday’s events.

“I know how much dedication and commitment it takes to be a part of that community,” he said. “Aside from the actual nuts and bolts of what the mission entailed, it’s just the amount of commitment and preparation that you and your family and your friends that you’re working with have to go through in order for these kind of things to actually take place.”

White said he still have several friends that are members of the various SEAL teams.

“People hear the word ‘Navy SEALs’ and they automatically attach a certain thought process to what it takes to be in this and what these guys are capable of doing,” White said. “But until you’ve been around them, you don’t really know how much they’re capable of, how intense these guys are, how hardcore they are, how tough the training is, how precise their operations are. These are some very, very, very tough individuals that can really do anything.”

White said there’s a lot of “legends and mistruths” surrounding SEAL training.

“It’s an intense training program intended to last six months in the basic program, and then anywhere from six to 12 months after that in which you have to go through another intensive training program that’s a little bit more specialized,” White said.

The program, White said, teaches SEAL operators how to deal with adversity, misery and “obstacles that normal people could never even dream of overcoming.”

“It’s a program that’s necessary to train people to do what was done last night,” White said. “I would venture to guess that there was not one guy who was on any of those birds last night that was getting ready to go and do this operation who had any doubt that not only he could accomplish the mission, but the people that were alongside him were there to the very end and very capable. It’s just a very special group of people.”