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Friday, Apr. 18, 2014

Search for Osama bin Laden has link to area

Monday, April 26, 2004

MARSTON - You might say the search for Osama bin Laden has its roots in Marston.

When Sam Bodine, a former resident of Marston and now residing in Sikeston, heard there was a familiar name featured in March 15 edition of Newsweek, he headed out to get his own copy of the magazine. There in the article, "The Hunt Heats Up," was the name McRaven, a name and a family with strong ties to his former hometown.

"I've known the whole family my whole life," said Bodine with obvious pride. "I grew up across the street from them. This boy's dad was my childhood hero."

"This boy" is actually William H. "Bill" McRaven, a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, who is leading a special forces team.

McRaven, according to the article, is heading up Task Force 121, a covert, miniature strike force whose mission is to capture bin Laden. According to the article: "Task Force 121, which also helped to capture Saddam Hussein under McRaven's command, represents something brand new in warfare, a pure hybrid of civilian intelligence and military striking power."

The article explains the group is a blend of several special forces operations designed to produce a "lightning-fast reaction should intelligence sources locate bin Laden or any other 'high-value' targets anywhere for a few hours."

Bodine said, while he knew his friend's son was in the Navy SEALS, he had no idea where he was currently assigned.

"It makes me very proud," said Bodine. "It is just great that someone who has roots in that little town has amounted something internationally."

McRaven is the grandson of Claude McRaven, who served as Marston's doctor for some 40 years. The doctor began his practice in the community after completing medical school in 1915

According to Al McRaven, William H. McRaven's uncle, his nephew while his nephew has never actually visited Marston "he hears about it all the time - from his dad and me also," said Al McRaven, who was visiting recently with Bodine.

Dr. McRaven and his wife, Adah, raised their children - Corinne, Claude Coy (Bill) and A -- in Marston. Also the doctor had a history of military service using his medical skills in World Wars I and II and the National Guard.

The service to the military was passed from generation to generation.

The son of Army officer, the younger McRaven was described by his uncle as "laid back. ... He doesn't go off the deep end even as a youngster he was pretty mature kid but well, he was a typical boy."

The uncle said he and his nephew still keep in touch and in fact spoke just a few weeks ago. However, he noted, the officer didn't reveal his current assignment. It was another relative who first discovered the article in Newsweek.

The Newsweek article noted that McRaven was the principal author of the White House strategy for combating terrorism. Also he literally wrote the book on special operations forces, a 1995 history of surgical strike teams from the Nazi rescue of Mussolini in 1943 to the 1976 Israeli raid on Entebbe.

Friends described McRaven as intelligent, tough yet compassionate. And the magazine article concludes that McRaven is the man capable of bringing all the elements together to capture one of America's "most wanted."

His uncle agreed: "I think of Bill as a good soldier but I don't think of him as an assassin. He is a good regular soldier."

The McRaven clan still gathers for reunions and the uncle said he is in hopes his nephew's assignment is complete in time to join the rest of the family during an upcoming reunion in the Ozarks.

In the meantime, the elder McRaven will be waiting to hear of bin Laden's capture, knowing that his nephew has some special resources to call upon in his work.

"Marston contributed an awful lot to World War II and I think Bill comes from that," said Al McRaven. "I just think that the grandfather and father would be very proud of his accomplishments."