Father of former SEAL: 'Josh would be proud'
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 10, 2011
By Steve Huffman
The father of a Navy SEAL from Lexington who died almost three years ago says his son would take pride in the fact that Osama bin Laden is no longer a terrorist threat.
Josh Harris would take particular pride, his father said, that members of his SEAL team disposed of bin Laden in a raid that was planned and executed with absolute precision.
“It was what Josh was doing, he was protecting us,” said Dr. Sam Harris. “To get this guy out of the way is a huge thing.”
Josh Harris, 36, died Aug. 30, 2008, while crossing a turbulent river in Afghanistan. Harris said a big part of the job his son and his fellow SEALs were doing was planning for a raid like that executed in Pakistan.
The raid involved four helicopters and 24 SEALs. Killed were bin Laden, an al-Qaida courier, his brother and one of bin Laden’s sons. No Americans were injured.
Harris said had his son lived, he would have been involved in the raid.
“That was what Josh was doing,” Harris said. “That was one of the main things they worked on.”
He said Josh was a member of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six, the group that executed the raid. Specifically, Harris said, it was Team Six’s Blue Team that was involved. That was the very team, Harris said, of which Josh was a member.
“These guys,” he said, “this is what they do, and they did it very well.”
Harris said he and his wife, Evelyn, were at home when they received a call from their daughter, Kiki Harris, Josh’s twin sister, in Florida. One of the SEALs with whom Josh served tried to call the Harrises in Lexington. Unable to connect from Afghanistan, he then phoned Josh’s sister.
“Call your parents,” he said. “Tell them to be sure and watch the president’s address.”
That was about 15 minutes, Harris said, before the national media outlets began buzzing that something had happened and President Obama would soon make a rare late-night television address from the White House.
“We had a little head’s up,” Harris said.
He admitted the news of bin Laden’s death was an emotional experience for him and his wife.
“It brought emotions we had not visited in quite some time,” Harris said.
He said he feels the death of the leader of al-Qaida is significant for a number of reasons. Not only, Harris said, does it mean bin Laden won’t be planning more terrorist strikes, it should also boost morale for residents of the United States.
“Yeah, it’s a happy day,” Harris said. “We’ve taken this person out. In that aspect, it’s a happy day.”
Obama described the top-secret operation in broad stroke. Counterterrorism about the planned raid was shared with almost no one, the president said. It was a mission, he said, that required surgical accuracy, even more precision than could be delivered by the government’s sophisticated Predator drones.
Harris said he can’t help but believe that, somewhere, his son is smiling.
“Josh would be proud,” he said.
Steve Huffman can be reached at 336-249-3981, ext. 217, or steve.huffman@the-dispatch. com.