The man who shot Osama bin Laden tells his story to a packed house at Nixon Library

YORBA LINDA — A thousand people at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum thundered with applause when Robert O’Neill, the retired Navy SEAL who shot Osama bin Laden, took the stage to share his story Wednesday, July 26.

O’Neill’s talk, woven through with a sense of humor that surprised and delighted the audience, focused less on his encounter with bin Laden on May 2, 2011, in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and more on life lessons from his journey. One of the mentions he made of the incident was simple: “Bin Laden got what he deserved.”

The audience was packed into the library’s East Room, spilling over into the Fred Malek Theater, where a simulcast from the other room was shown.

Seventeen years before his shots pierced bin Laden’s skull, O’Neill was home in Butte, Montana, facing a different struggle: heartbreak. He’d just been dumped by a girl, and he wanted to get out of town. Inspired by his friends in the Marine Corps, he stopped by a recruitment office. As luck would have it, he said, the Marine recruiter wasn’t in the office – but the Navy’s was.

  • Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy’s Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, laughs as he tells the audience he didn’t know how to swim at the time he signed up for the Navy at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy’s Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, laughs as he tells the audience he didn’t know how to swim at the time he signed up for the Navy at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, speaks at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, speaks at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, tells stories of capturing enemies at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, tells stories of capturing enemies at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • People gather to photograph Robert O’Neill’s uniform at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    People gather to photograph Robert O’Neill’s uniform at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • A crowd listens as Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, speaks at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    A crowd listens as Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, speaks at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, recounts his early days in the Navy at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, recounts his early days in the Navy at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Robert O’Neill’s uniform on display at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Robert O’Neill’s uniform on display at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Robert O’Neill’s uniform on display at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Robert O’Neill’s uniform on display at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer asks a question to Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team 6, who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, speaks at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer asks a question to Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team 6, who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, speaks at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, tells a story about his early days in the Navy at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, tells a story about his early days in the Navy at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, is introduced at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, is introduced at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • People listen as Robert O’Neill, the former member of Navy SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, speaks at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    People listen as Robert O’Neill, the former member of Navy SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, speaks at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Robert O’Neill, the former member of the Navy SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, speaks at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Robert O’Neill, the former member of the Navy SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, speaks at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, tells the audience about SEAL training at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, tells the audience about SEAL training at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, talks about joining the service for a girl at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, talks about joining the service for a girl at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, recounts a mission capturing an enemy at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Robert O’Neill, the former member of the U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, recounts a mission capturing an enemy at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Robert O’Neill, the former member of Navy SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, speaks at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Robert O’Neill, the former member of Navy SEAL Team 6 who is credited with shooting Osama bin Laden to death, speaks at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Navy SEAL Robert J. O’Neill will speak at the Nixon Presidential Library & Museum where his uniform is on display. (Courtesy of the Nixon Library)

    Navy SEAL Robert J. O’Neill will speak at the Nixon Presidential Library & Museum where his uniform is on display. (Courtesy of the Nixon Library)

  • Navy SEAL Robert J. O’Neill’s combat equipment is on public display for the first time at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda on Monday, July 3, 2017. O’Neill was the Navy Special Warfare Operator who took down terrorist Osama bin Laden during a daring raid in 2011.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Navy SEAL Robert J. O’Neill’s combat equipment is on public display for the first time at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda on Monday, July 3, 2017. O’Neill was the Navy Special Warfare Operator who took down terrorist Osama bin Laden during a daring raid in 2011.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

of

Expand

Facing hellish training that he called “a beat-down for eight months,” O’Neill, 41, said he quickly learned to have a sense of humor in the face of hardship with SEAL Team 6.

“Don’t be afraid to enjoy yourself. Every single day, smile,” O’Neill said. “Think about this: none of us are getting out of this alive. I don’t believe in statistics, but I happen to be sure 10 out of 10 people die.”

After becoming a Navy SEAL, O’Neill rose to senior chief petty officer and was deployed on more than 400 missions, including two that were made into movies: the 2009 rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips (2013’s “Captain Phillips”) and the 2005 mission to save Marcus Luttrell, a fellow SEAL (“Lone Survivor”).

When his team was given the bin Laden mission, O’Neill said he was sure he wouldn’t be coming back. Before leaving, he left behind a tear-stained letter for his seven-year-old daughter – addressed to her 20 years later, apologizing for missing her wedding.

But O’Neill made it back. Since then, he’s been giving hundreds of speeches around the country and abroad, more recently promoting his newly released memoir “The Operator.” Like his talks, the book goes through O’Neill’s life and shows how his experiences can reveal lessons for others.

The gear O’Neill wore the night he hunted down bin Laden – boots, helmet, bullet-proof vest, all in desert-camouflage – is on public display at the library until the end of July.

Ron Clark, 65 of Diamond Bar, said he was drawn to the talk by two things: memories of 9/11 and the excitement of the day bin Laden was brought to justice.

“It was very inspiring,” Clark said. “I feel a lot of pride to know we have people like that, trained so expertly to do things most of us would never know how to do.”

Read more about The man who shot Osama bin Laden tells his story to a packed house at Nixon Library This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. Santa Ana Shredding Service

Powered by WPeMatico