Panama City Beach - The Navy diving community is a tight-knit group. It's possible some of the Navy Seals who carried out the Bin Laden raid did some of their training at Naval Support Activity Panama City. A newly retired, highly-decorated Navy Chief says he's quite familiar with these type of operations.
Retired Navy Chief Alex Semmler served as a sniper in Iraq during the initial invasion in 2003 and several subsequent tours. He couldn't be prouder of the Navy Seals who carried out the raid on Osama Bin Laden's Pakistan compound and killed him. "When I first heard it I was just elated, I was overcome with pride and joy that the symbol of 9/11 was taken down, the epitome of evil was destroyed," said Semmler.
Semmler calls the elite Seal Team 6, 'The Best of the Best.'
"They carry out the highly classified missions. They are the most highly trained special forces in the entire world."
Semmler, who served on special forces teams in Iraq, says these missions require a singular focus. "You have to get in a zone. Especially the guys you are going in with. It's not a brigade of 500 people, it's a team, it's a family. You know every step every man is going to take and they know every step you are going to take. You are a well-oiled machine."
Seal Team 6 has the reputation of being one of the US Military's premier special-ops teams. "They'd been practicing and practicing, they knew every inch of the compound. They don't flinch when it comes time to react. Osama can testify to that," said Semmler.
For security reasons and to avoid possible retaliation, we may never know the team members. "It's very likely some of those guys have come through here and are familiar with this area. You never know, they could be your next door neighbor. Those unsung heroes. They keep you safe so you can sleep at night and not have to worry about people like Osama," said Semmler.
Semmler is also aware of the continued threat of terrorism. "He is the symbol of terrorism, but he is not all of terrorism. The Taliban still exists, that wants to take down America, the war is still going strong. We need to keep our guard up, we need to keep our flags raised, our pride high and we need to go get them," said Semmler.
Semmler says other military branches special forces teams also train at Naval Support Activity.