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Robert O'Neill
Born April 10, 1976(1976-04-10) (age 44)
Place of birth Butte, Montana, United States
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1995–2012[1]
Rank SCPO GC.png Senior chief petty officer
Unit US Navy SEALs insignia.png United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group
Battles/wars Operation Neptune Spear
Operation Red Wings
Awards Silver Star ribbon.svg Silver Star (2)
US Navy Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon.png Presidential Unit Citation (3)
Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star Medal (4)
Joint Service Commendation ribbon.svg Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor
Navy and Marine Corps Medal ribbon.svg Navy and Marine Corps Medal

Robert O'Neill (born April 10, 1976) is a former United States Navy SEAL and a native of Butte, Montana.[2] He is best known for his claims, 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.[3]

Early life[edit | edit source]

O'Neill was born and raised in Butte, Montana, a former copper mining boomtown. In his youth, O'Neill's father, Tom O'Neill, 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 Navy hoping to become a sniper.[5][6]

Career[edit | edit source]

O'Neill initially sought to become a sniper and enlist as a 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 Navy, telling him he could be a sniper in the Navy SEALs.[7]

As a member of the 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 Navy. He is now a public speaker employed by Leading Authorities, a speakers bureau.[10]

O'Neill rose up the chain of command as senior chief petty officer. His 52 decorations include two Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars with Valor, a Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor, three Presidential Unit citations, and two Navy/Marine Corps Commendations with Valor.[11]

Claims about participation in Operation Neptune Spear[edit | edit source]

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, saying:

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 identifies the man who fired the fatal shots at Bin Laden 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 he leaked classified material.[12][18] O'Neill has also been criticized by other former Navy SEALs for disclosing his role.[15]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. BBC, Osama Bin Laden killing: US Navy Seals row over shooting. 7 November 2014.
  2. Sherman, David (November 5, 2014). "Butte native identified as man who killed Osama bin Laden". KTVQ (Billings, Montana). http://www.ktvq.com/news/butte-native-identified-as-the-navy-seal-that-killed-osama-bin-laden. Retrieved November 6, 2014. 
  3. Myers, Meghynn (November 6, 2014). "Osama bin Laden Shooter ID'ed Ahead of Fox Interview". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/militaryintelligence/2014/11/05/bin-laden-shooter-identified/18563131. Retrieved November 6, 2014. 
  4. NBCMontana. "Friends describe Butte man who killed Osama bin Laden". NBCMontana. http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/butte-community-reacts-to-news-of-local-man-who-killed-bin-laden/29590398. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Profile, dailymail.co.uk; accessed November 9, 2014.
  6. Tim Walker, Rob O'Neill: US Navy Seal who shot Osama Bin Laden outed. 06 November 2014, the Independent.
  7. "Robert O'Neill". http://www.leadingauthorities.com/speakers/robert-oneill.html. 
  8. Alexander, Harriet (November 6, 2014). "Robert O'Neill: The Man Who Shot bin Laden". The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/al-qaeda/11212782/Rob-ONeill-The-man-who-shot-bin-Laden.html. 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", wbir.com, 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. http://www.businessinsider.com/report-the-navy-seal-who-shot-bin-laden-has-been-identified-2014-11. Retrieved November 6, 2014. 
  13. Bronstein, Phil (February 11, 2013). "The Man Who Killed bin Laden... Is Screwed". Esquire Magazine. http://www.esquire.com/features/man-who-shot-osama-bin-laden-0313. Retrieved November 6, 2014. 
  14. Peligri, Justin (November 6, 2014). "Ex-SEAL Says He Fired Final bin Laden Shot". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/06/politics/seal-bin-laden-shooter-identified/index.html. 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. http://www.ibtimes.com/navy-seals-robert-oneill-matt-bissonnette-public-dispute-over-who-killed-osama-bin-1720499. 
  18. Bergen, Peter (November 4, 2014). "Did Robert O'Neill really kill bin Laden?". CNN.

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