Fighting the War on Terror as a Navy SEAL: "This Operation Was Their Super Bowl."
By David Schepp/AOL
As the death of Osama bin Laden continues to dominate the media, much attention has been focused on the elite unit of American commandos who infiltrated the heavily fortified compound in Pakistan where the al-Qaida leader was holed up.
They are known as SEALs, a special operations force of the U.S. Navy. The acronym is derived from the sailors' ability to operate on sea, air and land. As a group, they endure months of grueling training before emerging to take on some of the most dangerous missions anywhere in the world.
One of them is Eric Davis, who served in the navy for 16 years, the last 10 of them as a SEAL sniper, including operations during George W. Bush's War on Terror, which began after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, nearly a decade ago.
Davis says his interest in military service was handed down from his father and grandfather who worked to protect the public in civilian roles. Davis got the idea of becoming a SEAL as a teenager in 1990 after watching a video about the training the recruits undertake to prepare for the role. Struck by the intensity of training, he was nonetheless intrigued.
Less than a decade later, having made it through SEALs training, he began his deployment at a time -- before Sept. 11 -- "when there wasn't a lot going on," Davis says. He and his team routinely boarded ships that had smuggled goods out of Iraq, commandeering them so they could be guided safely back to harbor.
As news of this week's events unfolded, Davis says he had a sense of longing for the time he served as a SEAL. Davis, more than most, has a good idea of what took place in bin Laden's Pakistan compound.
For the 24 members of Team Six -- the even more specialized group of Navy SEALs assigned to take out the man whose image became a symbol of terror -- the operation was their Super Bowl, he says.
"I think it would be like if you were to ask somebody who has been in Super Bowl and they're now out of the NFL, what it's like for the [current] team to win ... all kinds of feelings come back."
Looking back to the period shortly after Sept. 11, he says, "I really miss looking at the news and understanding what part of the news my team or my operation or what I was doing played into that report."
Still, says Davis, now 38, though he's filled with pride to have been part of that small group and the vital missions they accomplished, his life has moved on.
One of the benefits of having been a SEAL, Davis says, is that the intense training gives you a sense that there isn't anything you can't accomplish. That has helped him to make the transition into civilian life, working as director of adviser planning and training for Pacific Advisors, a California-based wealth-management firm.
Davis says he remembers times during SEALs training when he slept for only couple of hours a night for months on end, especially during so-called "hell week," when recruits are pushed to their mental and physical limits.
That kind of continual physical and mental exertion allows you to realize, he says, "I can pretty much do anything I put my mind to."