Fox News was slated to reveal the identity of the Navy SEAL who shot Osama bin Laden later this month. However, the identity of the SEAL Team Six hero has been released early to the Daily Mail by the SEAL’s father.
The Daily Mail confirmed the SEAL’s identity as Rob O’Neill. O’Neill has a Fox News interview scheduled in which he will tell how he killed bin Laden and why he is giving up his anonymity. However, O’Neill’s father, Tom O’Neill, spoke ahead of the interview with the Daily Mail on some of the issues surrounding the “highly decorated” Navy SEAL.
Tom says that his son is a 16-year veteran and finally decided to speak out and give up his anonymity after he decided to retire early. The Navy veteran is upset about a lack of healthcare and retirement after leaving the service and wants to speak out about the issues. Therefore, he has decided to share information about his service and killing Osama bin Laden. Rob completed more than 400 combat missions, killed more than 30 targets and is one of the most-decorated SEALs in history. However, that hasn’t stopped the Pentagon and SEAL headquarters from being upset about O’Neill going public.
Force Master Chief Michael Magaraci and commander Rear Adm. Brian Losey, made it clear that the vow of silence remains one of the most important tenets of SEAL life. The letter seems to be a direct attack against O’Neill for speaking out.
“A critical tenant (sic) of our Ethos is ‘I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions.’ Violators of our Ethos are neither Teammates in good standing, nor Teammates who represent Naval Special Warfare. We do not abide willful or selfish disregard for our core values in return for public notoriety and financial gain, which only diminishes otherwise honorable service, courage and sacrifice.”
The two leaders made it clear that O’Neill’s decision to go public translates into shame among former SEALs, and that he could even face legal action.
“Classified information is protected by law. All members exposed to classified information have a duty obligation to protect this information, regardless of what may be reflected in the media, accurately or otherwise. We will actively seek judicial consequence for members who willfully violate the law, and place our Teammates, our Families, and potential future operations at risk.”
However, Rob’s father doesn’t understand what the big deal is with his son speaking out.
“He is not allowed to talk, yet they are using this big bullhorn to shut him up.”
Rob also seemed to touch on the backlash he was receiving from speaking out on his Twitter account.
There is no such thing as Freedom of Speech anymore. People get fired for what they say. Tell me I’m wrong… Sticks and stones may….BS
— Robert O’Neill (@mchooyah) September 12, 2014
Rob had a previous interview with Esquire Magazine, but his identity was kept secret. He was only identified in the interview as “the shooter.” In the interview he discussed many of the issues he had with trying to leave the Navy. He raised concerns about how veterans — including himself — were treated. The interview, which was published in March 2013, began with a meeting in April 2012 as he prepared to leave the Navy. He was especially worried about losing healthcare and pension benefits because he was leaving the service early. O’Neill, though he was decorated 52 times, had decided to retire after 16 years instead of the full 20 years of service. As a result, his pension and healthcare benefits were significantly reduced despite his highly dangerous position and awards.
O’Neill is hoping that he can help bring about changes within the Navy system by speaking out. Rob notes that despite his 16 years of service, the SEALs had offered to get him a job delivering beer in Michigan, which he compared to witness protection for Mafia turncoats. Instead of peddling beer, he has become a motivational speaker with an official biography which details a very generic version of his exploits.
What do you think of the unsung hero? Should Rob O’Neill lose his good standing with the Navy SEALs after speaking out about shooting Osama bin Laden and his issues with the Navy pension plans? Or is O’Neill justified in using his position as an “American hero” to bring about changes he hopes to see within the military programs?