Back to News

Wives’sacrifices leading up to raid contributed to success

Wives of warriors killed since 9/11 reflect on the death of bin Laden

President Barack Obama delivers remarks to troops at Fort Campbell, Ky., May 6, as the group of 101st Airborne Division Soldiers cheer. /U.S. Army photo

Recommend Article
Total Recommendations (0)
Clip Article Email Article Print Article Share Article

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Wendy Allison doesn't know the details of how her husband was killed and she will likely never know. One thing she does know is the knowledge and experience gained from dangerous Special Operations missions and training exercises - that have taken so many lives - helped contribute to the successful mission to locate and kill Osama bin Laden.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 336 Special Operations personnel have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, according to the United States Special Operations Command.

This underscores the impressive fact that there were no injuries or casualties among the Special Operations unit conducting the stealth raid that took out bin Laden - and sheds light on the dangerous work done by these elite (and often highly secretive) units.

"I am so proud of my husband and our military," says Wendy.

Wendy's husband, Air Force Capt. Derek Argel (assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron), was killed in 2005 when an Iraqi Air Force aircraft crashed during a training mission. Three other U.S. troops and an Iraqi pilot were also killed in the Memorial Day crash.

"Part of me wonders," says Wendy. "If 9/11 didn't happen, would Derek not have been killed four years later? Would my husband still be alive if it had not been for bin Laden?"

While recalling the thoughts that raced through her mind when she heard the news of bin Laden's demise, she is quick to add that as a military spouse these are the realities and the risks.

"I know Derek would be proud that our guys got him, that they persevered after so many years," says Wendy, adding that their 6-year-old son (who was only 10 months old when his father died in Iraq) "knows we got the bad guy."

Bin Laden's death is a victory for the U.S. military and Special Operations forces in particular, but it doesn't make Wendy's loss any easier. She also knows that this doesn't mean an end to the war on terrorism.

Mary Ellen Bancroft shares this view. Her husband, Matthew Bancroft, was part of the initial deployment after the 9/11 attacks. A C-130 pilot, he was flying in support of a Special Operations mission in Pakistan in 2002 when he was killed along with six others - the first Marine casualties and the first female casualty, in the war on terror.

"Prior to 9/11, Matt would talk about bin Laden and how he was a danger to the United States," says Mary Ellen. "Am I relieved that he (bin Laden) is gone? Yes. But, get the others as well."

Mary Ellen recalls the morning of 9/11 when her husband gave her a call from Camp Pendleton and told her to turn on the news, saying "you are not going to believe this."

She had a similar reaction when she heard the news that bin Laden was finally found and killed.

"I think I was in shock, saying to myself ‘really, wow they killed him, finally.' I was relieved but didn't feel joy," Mary Ellen says.
She struggles with the celebrating.

"The fact that this evil man who did so much harm is dead now is a good thing. But, it doesn't bring my husband back."

What she can find peace with is that the mission to find and kill bin Laden resulted in no casualties.

"What a triumph," Mary Ellen says. "If they had lost one person it would have taken away from the triumph. All of them walked in together and walked out together. It is the icing on the cake."

comments powered by Disqus

Site Search