Tim Farley, For The City Sentinel
Robert O’Neill, one of the nation’s most decorated NAVY Seals and author of “The Operator,” told the audience at Church of the Servant on Sept. 16 that SEAL teams are as effective as they are because of preparation and teamwork.
“Most importantly, we never quit,” he said.
Becoming the SEAL Team 6 leader didn’t come easily. He described the rigorous training to become a SEAL followed by nine months of additional training to be part of SEAL Team 6, which included strenuous physical work, oral boards and a psychological evaluation.
All of that combined provided “the stress of combat in a controlled training environment,” he said.
In combat, O’Neill said he was afraid all of the time.
“If someone says they weren’t afraid, they’re either lying or a sociopath,” he said.
The most difficult part of being a SEAL team member isn’t the combat, but rather “kissing your kid goodbye.” O’Neill recalled being at his 4-year-old daughter’s school Easter party in Virginia when he received a text calling him to duty.
The operation centered on rescuing cargo ship Capt. Richard Phillips from a boat in the Indian Ocean.
O’Neill led the operation that rescued Phillips from Somali pirates who had seized the ship Maersk Alabama on April 8, 2009. Phillips was rescued four days later by the Navy SEAL team.
Then came May 2, 2011 when SEAL Team 6 went on a “one-way” mission to either capture or kill terrorist Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 tragedy that killed more than 3,000 Americans.
After making their way into bin Laden’s Pakistan compound, the SEALs rushed into his home, up the stairs, kicked open the bedroom door and shot the terrorist in the head.
O’Neill was credited with the three shots that killed bin Laden, the most wanted man in the world for a decade and leader of Al Qaeda.
As the team flew toward its mission, O’Neill said he remembered many of the team members talking about the potential death sentence they were walking into. Although a U.S. helicopter crashed inside the compound and a gunfight ensued, there were no American casualties.
O’Neill recalled the helicopter flight out of Pakistan as he constantly looked at his watch. Finally, the pilot told the SEAL team, “Gentlemen, welcome to Afghanistan.” Those words, O’Neill said, were a relief knowing they were no longer in Pakistan airspace.
O’Neill’s book, “The Operator,” has been described as a “jaw-dropping fast-paced account” of his 17 years as a Navy SEAL and his 400-mission career which took him and his team across four different theaters of war.
During his career, O’Neill was decorated more than 52 times with honors.
Through his charity, Your Grateful Nation, O’Neill works to raise awareness and financial support for special operations military personnel making the transition from the battlefield to civilian life.
As a regular contributor with FOX News, O’Neill offers expert analysis on terrorism and military strategy.
The Town Hall Series continues Oct. 21 with Dr. Marc Milstein who will speak about keeping the brain healthy, boosting memory and lowering the risk of dementia. All lectures will be held at Church of the Servant, 14343 N. MacArthur in Oklahoma City.