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.