"Breaking the Silence" Moment Captured on Video, Aired by FOX News
A Visit to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum to Make Anonymous Donation Turns into Life-Changing Decision to Go Public.
Ex-Navy SEAL Robert O'Neill has talked extensively in interviews that an unexpected meeting with 9/11 families is the reason he finally decided to speak out. It was at the unveiling of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, where an encounter with a gathering of 9/11 family members occured, that led to an impromptu speech.
He didn't know what he was going to say right then and there, but the words flowed.
And so did the tears of the men and women before him. It was in an auditorium of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, sparsely filled with 20 or so 9/11 family members. It was there that they heard from the man himself — the soldier who came face to face with the man who "masterminded" the killing of their loved ones on that tragic day. O'Neill recounted how he shot bin Laden three times and watched him take his last breath, after which he and his fellow SEAL Team Six brothers transported bin Laden's body to a U.S. military base in Afghanistan for official identification under the cover of darkness.
Members of 9/11 families shared their stories of pain and loss shed on September 11, 2001.
These were tears of relief, they said. Hearing the story first hand of bin Laden's last moments on earth, directly from the man who fatally shot him. It brought them closure, they said, a sense of relief. One 9/11 wife tells O'Neill, "You didn't close a chapter, you closed the book." Experiencing this outpouring of emotion … it was then that Robert decided he wouldn't remain silent any longer. He would share his story for the sake of United States — a great nation that deserved a sense of closure after all these years following the largest terrorist on U.S. soil.
There's even video footage of O'Neill — aired by FOX News — with the victims that day. He didn't expect it would be shared publicly.
He came to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum that day for what he had intended to be an anonymous donation — the shirt he was wearing when he shot bin Laden, adorned with the American flag. Because the opening of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum was such a momentous occasion for him, he arranged to have it videotaped for historical purposes.
But things changed.
O'Neill says that once he saw how his story was received by the 9/11 families and how, as they put it, it helped in their healing process, he made the difficult decision to finally go public. A short time later he began working with FOX News and news anchor Peter Doocy to tell his part of the story and to share his experience with the 9/11 families.