'The Face I Had Seen Thousands of Times': SEAL Recalls Killing Bin Laden
Programming Note: If you missed it, you can catch the full two-hour presentation of “The Man Who Killed Usama Bin Laden,” on Sunday, November 16 at 8p and 11p ET.
In part two of “The Man Who Killed Usama Bin Laden,” Peter Doocy took us inside the moment where former Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill killed the al Qaeda leader.
Check out highlights from the must-see special below.
‘Freedom Will Be Defended’
O’Neill recalled how he was counting from 0-1,000 and 1,000-0 to keep his mind occupied on the flight over to the compound where Usama bin Laden was believed to be hiding.
“As I’m counting for some reason, I remembered a quote from George W. Bush on 9/11, ‘Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward. And freedom will be defended.’ And I kind of got goose bumps.”
O’Neill said he began to repeat that quote over and over in his head, and that’s when it hit him.
“After weeks of training, 82 minutes into the flight, I’m like, I’m on this mission and we’re gonna kill him.”
‘A Very Good Snapshot of History’
About 7,000 miles away in D.C., a small group of government officials watched the raid on bin Laden’s compound.
The moment was captured in an iconic picture, which O’Neill called “a very good snapshot of history,” citing concern on Hillary Clinton’s face and the president sitting on a folding chair.
Meanwhile, O’Neill was approaching the entrance of the house where bin Laden was believed to be.
“I’m looking at Osama bin Laden’s house and I’m thinking: this is so cool.”
‘The Face I Had Seen Thousands of Times’
O’Neill detailed how he stormed the compound’s main building, where bin Laden was believed to be.
Doocy asked him how he ended up as the no. 2 man on the stairs into the room where bin Laden was.
“Just luck,” he said.
He recalled, “I turned to the right and standing two feet in front of me with his hands on his wife’s shoulders behind her was the face I had seen thousands of times: UBL.”
That’s when the SEAL said he shot bin Laden in the face three times and heard his last breath.
Neither of the men said a word.
‘We Got Usama Bin Laden & We’re Going to Live?’
After bin Laden’s death, the SEALs systematically gathered every piece of potential evidence they could find at the compound.
“We found everything from opium to hard drives,” O’Neill said.
He described how the second floor appeared to be a media center.
“I guess he was just running al Qaeda from that place.”
The team took a DNA sample from the body, putting his corpse on one chopper and the sample on another, ensuring that there would be evidence of bin Laden’s death in the event that one helicopter went down.
O’Neill remembered how someone came over the radio 80 minutes into the flight out of the compound and said, “Gentleman, for the first time in your lives, you’re gonna be happy to hear this: welcome to Afghanistan.”
It was a great moment for the team, O’Neill recalled.
“Everyone’s like, ‘Oh my god, we just did it, we just pulled it off and we got him […] we got Usama bin Laden and we’re going to live?’ It’s amazing.”
O’Neill said he was standing 2 feet from bin Laden’s body watching TV when President Barack Obama announced to the world that the terror leader had been killed.
“I hear him say Usama bin Laden, and then I look at Usama bin Laden, and I literally wonder: how in the world did I get here from Butte, Montana?”
O’Neill on the Mission: ‘This Was the Entire Country’
O’Neill told Doocy about the team's trip to Fort Campbell, Ky., to meet the president, vice president and cabinet.
When asked who shot bin Laden, he and a friend said, “We all did it.”
“Definitely wasn’t me, it wasn’t the team, this was the country, this was the entire country. We were just the means to it,” he explained.
O’Neill served one more deployment in Afghanistan before he decided it was time to leave the Navy.
“My only regret is I miss my guys,” he told Doocy.
O’Neill also discussed a book, “No Easy Day,” written under the pen name Mark Owen. Doocy asked why that person has a different account than O’Neill.
“I think that war is foggy and I think that the author is telling the story as he saw it, and also based on the debrief that he heard.”
When asked about the images of bin Laden’s corpse, O’Neill said that the American people do not need to see that gruesome image – they just need to know that justice was served.
O’Neill: We Went on the Mission for the Single Mom Who Jumped to her Death on 9/11
Fox News cameras went along with O’Neill when he visited the 9/11 Memorial Museum and spoke to 20-25 families directly affected in the terror attack. He also donated the shirt that he wore during the mission to the museum.
O’Neill decided to go public with his story to give closure to all of the victims and their families.
“That’s the reason we went, accepting death the way we did because it wasn’t for ourselves to get the big mission and have bragging rights. The reason that we left on the mission knowing we’re probably going to die, more than likely not come home, was for the single mom that went to work on Tuesday morning and later that morning she made the conscious decision to jump to her death because it’s better than burning alive.”
'The Legacy of the Man Who Killed Usama Bin Laden'
O’Neill’s war is now over.
He has returned to Montana after more than 16 years of fighting for our freedom.
“Freedom was attacked, and America responded. That will be the legacy of the man who killed Usama bin Laden,” Doocy concluded.