278,248 Pages

Robert J. O'Neill
Navy SEAL Robert O'Neill.jpg
O'Neill in November 2014
Nickname "Rob"
Born April 10, 1976(1976-04-10) (age 44)
Place of birth Butte, Montana, U.S.
Allegiance Flag of the United States.svg United States of America
Service/branch Flag of the United States Navy.svg United States Navy
Years of service 1995–2012[1]
Rank U.S. Navy E8 infobox Senior chief petty officer
Unit United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group ("SEAL Team 6")

Second Liberian Civil War

Iraq War

War in Afghanistan

Maersk Alabama hijacking

Operation Neptune Spear
Awards Silver Star (2)
Bronze Star Medal (4)
Joint Service Commendation Medal (V)
Navy and Marine Corps Medal
Presidential Unit Citation (3)

Robert J. "Rob" O'Neill (born April 10, 1976) is a former United States Navy sailor. A former U.S. Navy SEAL and special warfare operator, O'Neill is best known for his claims that he had made in November 2014, of having fired the head shots that killed Osama bin Laden during the raid on his Abbottabad compound on May 2, 2011.[2]

Early life and educationEdit

O'Neill was born and raised in Butte, Montana.[3] In his youth, his father, Tom, took him hunting and taught him sharpshooting. In 1995, at age 19, a year after graduating from Butte Central Catholic High School,[4] O'Neill joined the U.S. Navy hoping to become a sniper.[5][6]


O'Neill initially sought to become a sniper and enlist as a U.S. Marine where he had known some friends. On the day he arrived at the recruitment office, the Marine recruiter was not in. Instead, a Navy recruiter suggested that O'Neill enlist in the U.S. Navy, telling him that he could be a sniper in the U.S. Navy SEALs.[7]

As a member of the U.S. Navy, O'Neill was reportedly involved in more than 400 missions,[8] including the mission to save Captain Richard Phillips during the Maersk Alabama hijacking, and Operation Red Wings in which O'Neill helped save Marcus Luttrell.[5] On 11 occasions during his career, O'Neill left home thinking he would not return alive.[9]

In 2012, after 16 years of service, and 4 years shy of retirement, O'Neill left the U.S. Navy. He is now a public speaker employed by Leading Authorities, a speakers bureau.[10]

O'Neill rose up the chain of command to Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator. His 52 decorations include two Silver Stars, four Bronze Star Medals with Valor device, a Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor device, three Presidential Unit citations, and two Navy and Marine Corps Commendations with Valor device.[11]

Claims about participation in Operation Neptune SpearEdit

The claims that O'Neill killed bin Laden came on October 5, 2014, in anticipation of a Fox News special called The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden,[12] which was expected to reveal his identity and details of the mission Operation Neptune Spear. He had previously been interviewed anonymously in an Esquire Magazine article in February 2013.[13][14]

O'Neill's statements resulted in criticism by fellow Navy SEALs. Rear Admiral Brian Losey and Force Master Chief Michael Magaraci issued a public statement,

A critical tenant [sic] of our ethos is "I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions."[15]

In 2012, Matt Bissonette, using the pseudonym "Mark Owen", wrote a book called No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama bin Laden documenting his participation in the raid. In his book, he does not identify the man who fired the fatal shots at Bin Laden, referring to him as simply the "Point Man". Bisonnette himself admits to firing his weapon at Bin Laden after the fatal shots were fired by the "Point Man" when Bin Laden was already "In his death throes".[16] He has; however, refused to respond directly to O'Neill's claims, adding that he believed the team effort was more important than one person pulling the trigger.[17] The United States Department of Justice launched a criminal investigation into whether Bissonnette leaked classified material.[12][18][not in citation given] O'Neill has also been criticized by other former Navy SEALs for disclosing his role.[15]


  1. "Osama bin Laden killing: US Navy Seals row over shooting". BBC News. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: British Broadcasting Corporation. November 7, 2014. 
  2. Myers, Meghynn (November 6, 2014). "Osama bin Laden Shooter ID'ed Ahead of Fox Interview". USA Today. Retrieved November 6, 2014. 
  3. Sherman, David (November 5, 2014). "Butte native identified as man who killed Osama bin Laden". KTVQ (Billings, Montana). Retrieved November 6, 2014. 
  4. NBCMontana. "Friends describe Butte man who killed Osama bin Laden". NBCMontana. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Profile". The Daily Mail.;. Retrieved November 9, 2014. 
  6. Walker, Tim (November 6, 2014). "Rob O'Neill: US Navy Seal who shot Osama Bin Laden outed". The Independent. 
  7. "Robert O'Neill". 
  8. Alexander, Harriet (November 6, 2014). "Robert O'Neill: The Man Who Shot bin Laden". The Telegraph. Retrieved November 6, 2014. 
  9. Leading Authorities, Robert O'Neill: Team Leader, Naval Special Warfare Development Group.
  10. Nicholas Kulish, Christopher Drew & Sean D. Naylor, (Nov 07, 2014). Another ex-commando says he shot bin Laden. Star Advertiser.
  11. "Osama bin Laden shooter speaks at Blount Co. event",, November 6, 2014; accessed November 8, 2014.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Walker, Hunter (November 3, 2014). "REPORT: The Navy SEAL Who Shot bin Laden Has Been Identified". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 2015-09-18. Retrieved November 6, 2014. 
  13. Bronstein, Phil (February 11, 2013). "The Man Who Killed bin Laden... Is Screwed". Esquire Magazine. Retrieved November 6, 2014. 
  14. Peligri, Justin (November 6, 2014). "Ex-SEAL Says He Fired Final bin Laden Shot". CNN. Retrieved November 6, 2014. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 Johnny Dodd (November 7, 2014). "Alleged Osama bin Laden Shooter Accused of 'Violating' Navy SEAL 'Ethos' for Going Public". People.
  16. Owen, Mark (September 4, 2012). No Easy Day. Dutton Penguin. p. 170. ISBN 978-0525953722. 
  17. "Navy SEALs Robert O'Neill, Matt Bissonnette In Public Dispute Over Who Killed Osama Bin Laden". International Business Times. 7 November 2014. 
  18. Bergen, Peter (November 4, 2014). "Did Robert O'Neill really kill bin Laden?". CNN.

External linksEdit

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.