Rodney Price, Gardner, is still kind of numb to the news that Osama bin Laden is dead.
“The main thing was wow, we finished something that we started, but we still have a long way to
go to take care of the country itself,” Price said.
He served a tour in Iraq as a member of the National Guard in 2006, but returned home after an attack on his base permanently damaged his brain and his legs.
“He has shrapnel in his heart,” his wife, Tracy Price, explained.
Late Sunday evening, May 1, President Obama announced that U.S. forces had successfully killed bin Laden in a targeted operation against a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
“A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability,” Obama said. “No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”
Late Sunday evening, Rodney and Tracy’s 18-year-old daughter awakened Tracy to share the news.
“I had to say, ‘who’s dead?’” Tracy said. “It made me realize how much it’s affected our family. I won’t say his name – because I don’t want him to become a martyr. I’m not rejoicing in his death. I’m rejoicing in the fact that we can now say there’s one less evil person in the world.”
Bin Laden was the mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a failed attack that resulted in the airplane crash of United 93 near Shanksville, Penn.
It’s been a long haul for the Price family since Sept. 11.
Those attacks are the reason Rodney re-joined the U.S. Armed Forces. Rodney had served in the Army when he was younger. As soon as the towers fell, Tracy said it was only a matter of time before Rodney would return.
“I knew the day of 9-11, because he’s such a huge patriot, that eventually he would go back in,” she said.
Rodney waited a few years until his son was older, and then joined the National Guard. He was sent to Mosul, Iraq in 2006.
He was enjoying an unscheduled night off at a command post in Mosul that October. It was the height of the Moslem Ramadan holiday, and the unit’s commander cancelled that night’s missions, because he didn’t think it would be safe to send anyone out.
Little did he know, keeping everyone in wasn’t safe either.
As soldiers played horse shoes and cards, six Iraqi insurgents ambushed the soldiers with as many as seven mortar rounds. Shrapnel struck his legs, heart and lung. On a respirator, he was sent to Balad. When he regained consciousness, he was sent to Germany and eventually home.
He is currently listed on the temporary disabled retired list. He awaits a medical review evaluation so he can be retired out of the military.
“He’s just in limbo,” Tracy said.
Bin Laden’s death will provide some closure for the family, but Rodney worried that there may be retaliation.
“I don’t think we’ve heard the last of Al Qaida. There’s enough hatred for the United States and western culture that someone will rise to take his place,” he said.
A Gardner man serving in the U.S. Navy said sailors on his domestic base shared that fear. U.S. Navy policy prohibits its sailors from going on the record about military affairs, but he agreed to speak to The Gardner News anonymously.
“We were worried. Some people were about retaliation,” the 27-year-old said. “There was a little sigh of relief and disbelief, but for the most people, there was a tinge of people being worried. I don’t even know how to put it.”
Rodney said bin Laden’s death won’t stop the terrorists.
“He was only one man,” Rodney said.
In the meantime, Rodney said it’s good to know that the men and women who have died throughout the War on Terror haven’t died in vain.
“I think as a whole nation, it did us a good just to know that the evil that attacked us on 9-11 was gone,” he said. “And it made me feel good that service members – men and women who lost their lives – didn’t die in vain.”