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Stillwater Man In ‘Situation Room’ During Bin Laden’s Death

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STILLWATER, Minn. (WCCO) — The mission that successfully took down Osama Bin Laden has riveted our attention this week.

One of the people watching the events unfold in the White House Situation Room was Stillwater native Denis McDonough. He is the Deputy National Security Advisor.

McDonough went to St. Croix Catholic School in Stillwater. Ann Daniels was his first grade science teacher. She said “Dude” was his nickname at the school.

“I had Denis for science many, many years ago,” Daniels said. “He was such a dude, the first and only dude we’ve ever had in St. Croix Catholic School.”

Daniels said he emerged as a leader early on, to the point where many teachers noticed his ability to stand out.

“He always wore a tank top, and he was such a leader that the teacher he had for homeroom in second grade was almost intimidated by his demeanor because he was such a leader, very nice, very well behaved, very smart,” said Daniels.

Corliss Thomas was McDonough’s sixth grade teacher in 1981. She recalled an incident where she mispronounced his name.

“He spells his name D-E-N-I-S, one N and I read it very quickly so I said ‘Denise McDonough.’  “I don’t think he forgave me all year, he was like, he was not a girl,” said Thomas.

Brad Junker went to high school with McDonough and said he has always had the characteristics of a leader.

“He was a trend setter and leader as far back as Junior High, in football and High School as well…getting us roused up for everything, great individual,” Junker said.

McDonough is one of 11 kids. He graduated from St. John’s University summa cum laude with a degree in history.

All of his former colleagues said they are proud of the hometown kid.

“I just could not imagine being in that position in anyway shape, or form and the fact that he was part of it, is just amazing, that someone who went to school here is part of such an historic event,” said Daniels.

“Another local boy done well,” Junker said.

Sonya Goins, WCCO-TV Producer
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