MANATEE -- Manatee County residents Neville Chin, Brad Ranney, and Keith Dougherty all had reasons to rejoice when they heard the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed.
Each one’s life had been affected by the terrorist in ways they can’t forget and in ways that have changed them forever. For Neville Chin, a resident of Greyhawk Landing, who commutes to work in New York City, bin Laden almost cost him his life.
A mild-mannered engineer, Chin who said he has never screamed a curse word in his life lost it when he heard the news Sunday night that the mastermind of the 911 attacks had been killed. The 56-year-old Chin screamed out, “We finally got the SOB!”
Chin feels justified using such an oath.
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On Sept. 11, 2001, he was working on the 98th floor of Tower 2 of the World Trade Center in New York City.
He heard the first airliner being flown by bin Laden’s terrorists hit Tower 1 and saw the smoke.
“We all thought it was a small plane that had hit by accident,” Chin said.
Unlike at least 13 of his fellow employees who lost their lives later that day, Chin decided to take the elevator downstairs and leave the building.
Once in the lobby, a second airliner struck around the 80th floor of Tower 2, his tower.
“I heard an explosion just as I was leaving,” Chin said. “Had I waited for four or five more minutes, I probably would not have made it down the elevator.
“I am very personally involved,” Chin added of bin Laden. “This man knew innocent people would die on Sept. 11 and he didn’t care.”
Chin said he would have carried out the Seals’ mission of he could.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I could have done it.”
For Brad Ranney, co-owner of All Phases Welding in Ellenton, bin Laden has created a labor of love for the welder.
He is working on an 11-and-a-half foot long beam from the fallen World Trade Center presented to Southern Manatee Fire District for a future 911 memorial.
Ranney has spent hours working on the beam, mostly in the company of local firefighters, but many hours alone.
After being with this piece of metal that embodies the loss of thousands of lives, including 343 New York City firefighters, Ranney has made sure not even the smallest fragment is lost.
He is collecting the slag and dropped material from the welding process and plans to reseal it in the monument.
“The shame in all of this is that bin Laden had a choice but the people in the towers had no choice,” Ranney said.
For Bradenton’s Keith Dougherty, bid Laden is the reason he had to make the ultimate sacrifice.
The maintenance supervisor at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Catholic Church in Bradenton lost his son, Bayshore High School graduate and U.S. Marine Lance Corp. Scott E. Dougherty, on July 6, 2004 in a mission during his second tour in Iraq. Dougherty was killed instantly when his light armored vehicle ran over an explosive device.
Of bin Laden, Dougherty said Monday:
“He was the ace of spades in the deck. Yes, we cut the head off the snake. But how many other heads will rise up?”