HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - "He made the announcement that Osama bin laden had been killed and my initial reaction was thank god," said Retired Major General Jeff Hammond.
Those are the sentiments of the man who helped begin the search for bin laden nearly a decade ago, and who commanded U.S. Ground forces in Afghanistan.
"What a great day. What a great moment for all the beautiful families of the soldiers we lost under my command at combat for fifteen months, when I commanded the 4th Infantry Division. A great moment. Long over due," said Hammond.
Bin Laden's demise is long over due for families affected by 9-11, and Hammond, who was at the pentagon on 9-11 says that day affected him personally.
"That's when the plane struck. It struck into my office area where I just departed. Killed my people. A few hours later I crawled back up into the pentagon, where the roof was still on fire, couldn't see too well I just had to confirm the lose of life. The life of those people that served a long side with me," said Hammond.
That's when Hammond knew there would be war, and the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden began.
"Then, I was given command of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division. I went back in for fifteen months. Commanded the forces of 28 thousand soldiers and their families. It was during that period I like to believe that we defeated Al Qaeda in Iraq," said Hammond.
Hammond says Al Qaeda was weakened then, but it took years of intelligence to get the U.S. to this moment of success, which Hammond feels is just one of two major threats the U.S. military has taken down.
"In my view this is the second weapon of mass destruction our service members have taken off the battle field. First being Saddam Hussein , and now Bin Laden. Magnificent work.
So, the question now is what is next? Hammond believes Al Qaeda has only been silenced temporarily.
"They will go through a period of disruption, but they do quickly recover. We can not lose sight of that," said Hammond.
And Hammond says he hasn't lost sight there will always be an Osama Bin Laden when it comes to the war on terror.