Rob O’Neill is best remembered as the Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden.
FOX 13’s Russell Rhodes spoke to him while he was in Tampa for a fundraiser for Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister’s election campaign.
For most, the memorable image after the death of bin Laden was a room where President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and others watched the scene play out.
But O’Neill was seeing it differently. In his book, “The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior,” he remembers ever vivid detail.
There were weeks of planning the mission before finally looking at what he calls the face I’d seen ten thousand, a hundred thousand times.”
O’Neil fired his gun once, and bin Laden's body dropped to the ground. He fired another bullet for insurance. One person approached him soon after asking, “Are you good?”
“I said, ‘What do we do now?’ and he laughed. He said now we go find the computers,” O’Neill explained to FOX 13. “We’ve done this every night – a hundred of times. I said, ‘Holy crap.’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, you just shot Osama bin Laden. Your life just changed.”
For a kid who grew up in Montana, eventually joined the Navy and became a SEAL, O’Neil had quite the life.
He uses his skills to teach the private sector to think like the special forces.
“I did learn a lot of traits in the Navy I wasn't aware of: Decision making, stress management, team building, problem solving,” he said. “The big one I've learned from employers in the private sector is loyalty.”
Now, he is out of the military and says he doesn’t think he need to “top” killing bin Laden.
“When I went through high school, that was the most important time of my life...but it ended. The military was the most important part of my life, but it ended,” O’Neill said. “You need to move forward. One foot in front of the other. My life starts right now.”