The Meaning Behind the Mission
Following Through on President Bush’s Promise that “Freedom Will be Defended.”
It’s been 14 years, yet we can all recall so clearly that moment of realization on September 11, 2001, when the second plane hit the South Tower. And life as we knew it changed.
Nor can we forget where we were and how we felt the morning of May 2, 2011, when the news broke: 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was brought to justice by a highly covert team of U.S. military operatives (which we later learn was Navy SEAL Team 6). Recounting that fateful day, Robert J. O’Neill, the Navy SEAL who delivered the kill shot, recounts with FOX News’ Steve Doocy what it felt then and how it feels now.
Doocy: “You actually saw Geraldo on TV after you shot him, right?”
O’Neill: “We did see him. When we brought Osama bin Laden’s body back to Afghanistan…doing the DNA tests and going over the intelligence that we gathered at the house…we had a TV on. It was actually on FOX News and it was sort of slowly leaking out what had happened. It’s surreal to be there, to listen to Geraldo talk about something we just did.”
Doocy: “You were there at the end of his life. Where were you on September 11, fourteen years ago?”
O’Neill: “I was on a deployment to Germany with SEAL Team 2 and happened to be in the operations office…a room with a bunch of computers and televisions. They said there’s a fire in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. We started to watch it. They reported it was a Cessna…but that’s a huge hole in the building. We saw the second plane hit the South tower. It was only a matter of seconds before someone in the room said the words, “Osama bin Laden.”
Doocy: “President George Bush on one of his stops as he was making his way back to Washington, DC said something to the American people that you remembered instantly.”
O’Neill: “On the flight on the way to kill Osama bin Laden. Out of nowhere I said the quote from George W. Bush on 9/11. He said, ‘Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward and freedom will be defended.’ I put that tattoo on my left arm when I got back it meant so much to me.”
[The interview shifts to how O’Neill’s identity became public knowledge, rather expectedly, while anonymously donating the shirt he wore on the mission at the 9/11 Memorial Museum opening.]
Doocy: “You were so impacted by meeting some of the families there that you decided to, what?”
O’Neill: “I went into a room where the family members where. I didn’t know I was going to be speaking to them. I started to tell the story…slowly got to the end of story of the raid and told people for the first time that I killed bin Laden. Just the response…some would say it was closure. Some would say I’m not afraid anymore. Some would say there never will be closure but it helps with the healing. If I can do that for 20 people in a room… There are thousands and thousands affected by 9/11. If I can help them in any way, it’s worth whatever risk comes to me.”