Marking the Eighth Anniversary of Operation Neptune Spear

A camouflage shirt worn by a U.S. Navy seal team member who was present for Osama bin Laden’s killing is displayed at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
Intended for wear under body armor, this camouflage shirt was worn by one of the U.S. Navy Seal Team Six members present when Osama bin Laden was killed during the nighttime raid of his hideout on May 1, 2011. Collection 9/11 Memorial Museum, photo by Jin S. Lee.

Today marks the eighth anniversary of Operation Neptune Spear, when U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six successfully located and killed Osama bin Laden in a raid of his Abbottabad, Pakistan compound.

On September 11, 2001, the Islamist extremist terrorist network al-Qaeda, founded and led by bin Laden, killed 2,977 people from 93 nations in coordinated attacks. Nineteen terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes, deliberately crashing two of the planes into World Trade Center complex and a third plane into the Pentagon. After learning about the other attacks, passengers on the fourth hijacked plane, Flight 93, fought back, and the plane was crashed into an empty field in western Pennsylvania about 20 minutes by air from Washington, D.C.

Al-Qaeda hoped that, by attacking these symbols of American power, they would promote widespread fear throughout the country and severely weaken the United States’ standing in the world community, ultimately supporting their political and religious goals in the Middle East and Muslim world.

Operation Neptune Spear was the culmination of nearly ten years of monitoring and planning by U.S. intelligence and military forces to bring bin Laden to justice. The success of this mission represented an extraordinary moment in U.S. history and the fight against terrorism.

In 2014, one of the U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six members who was present during the raid donated this digital-pattern desert camouflage shirt to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. The American flag patch on the shirt is rendered in black and brown to blend in with the camouflage pattern. The flag is backward, a symbolic gesture referencing the era when the flag-bearer led soldiers behind him on the charge to battle.

You can read more about the bravery and incredible story of SEAL Team Six here.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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