SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - As we continue to learn more about the dangerous mission manned by a team of Navy SEALs to capture Osama bin Laden, a former Navy SEAL turned Valley Center pastor named Gunnar Hanson is taking a look back at his own life as one of the Navy's elite.
Gunnar Hanson spent 12 years in the Navy, including three platoons and two deployments. Fortunately, when he was going through the training to become a seal, our News 8 cameras were rolling. We caught up with him 17 years later.
"At that point I had no idea if I was going to make it through the program," he said.
Today he's a much different man. There aren't many ex-SEAL pastors out there.
"Very few and far between," Gunnar said.
Inside his Valley Center church, he watched as we showed him News 8 video from back in 1994, when he went through rigorous training just to become a SEAL.
"You have to want it more than anything in your life," he said. "Looking back I think I was just too stupid to quit."
The story profiles a great friend of Hanson's who ended up losing his life for his country. Even today, Hanson gets choked up feeling the camaraderie the two of them built.
"Tommy was a guy. We went all the way to SEAL team 3 together. I am still friends with his wife and his boys. It's tough," Gunnar said.
It's Tommy's death, along with the dozens of other SEALS who sacrificed their lives, that makes finding Osama bin Laden that much more gratifying.
"It was more of a sense of relief that our government, through a number of presidents, has continued to seek this man who has committed so much evil in this world," he said.
And after all, it was the Navy SEALs who killed bin Laden.
"Yes it was the best of the best, because it was the SEAL teams. Again my opinion… I'm sure Marines would probably differ," Gunnar said.