Retired Navy pilot Shane Osborn was 26-years-old when the EP-3 spy plane he was flying was hit by a Chinese F-8 fighter jet during what he described as a “normal mission.”

“I was pretty certain we were dead,” he said of the 2001 Hainan Island conflict in a PBS interview. “We were upside down in a large reconnaissance aircraft. I had lost my nose. I could hear the wind screaming through the plane, and I knew that number one prop was violently shaking. We were pretty much inverted. I was looking up at the ocean, so it was not a good feeling.”

Former Navy pilot and state treasurer Shane Osborn is running for U.S. Senate in Nebraska to replace retiring Sen. Mike Johanns. (Photo: AP)

Former Navy pilot and state treasurer Shane Osborn is running as a Republican for U.S. Senate in Nebraska to replace retiring Sen. Mike Johanns. (Photo: AP)

But he managed to land the plane in communist China, and his fear that “24 people were going to die in the middle of the ocean” and no one would know why was averted. He and his team had minutes to destroy what they could from the plane before the Chinese could get it.

The group was interrogated by the Chinese for twelve days before being released. Now, Osborn says, he is running as a Republican for the U.S. Senate as a way to fulfill the promises he made to God while on that mission.

“We have a saying in the Navy that many men and women have given their lives for: Not on my watch,” Osborn told Glenn Beck Wednesday. “That’s exactly why I’m running … [That's] why I extended my tour … when September 11th occurred, and flew some of the initial combat missions in Afghanistan. It’s why, when I got out of the Navy in 2005, I ran as a State Treasurer in Nebraska. I want to give back. This country is worth it.”

Osborn said the “least we could do” is have people in Washington who will put our country first “like our men and women in uniform do every single day.”

He described how we left four Americans to die in Benghazi as “disgusting.”

“This is much bigger than four lives, and that’s horrible enough,” he said. “When you are sitting in that chair, when you’re fighting in that firefight to the very end, it’s that thought that there’s no way … America’s going to leave you hanging … When you do something like this, it doesn’t only hurt the military, but sends a very weak signal to the rest of the world. To let an ambassador go down and those other men that fought to the very end – it’s disgusting.”

Osborn said his top three priorities in Washington are tackling the national debt, getting the regulators “that are killing this economy” out of the way so America can grow and work towards energy independence, and keeping the promises we’ve made to veterans.

He said we don’t need to look to Great Britain or Canada to see the perils of government healthcare, saying “veterans are dying every day” because they can’t get efficient access to quality care.

“If we treat veterans this way with government-run healthcare, how do you think they’re going to treat the average citizen?” he warned.

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