YAKIMA — “I was one of the guys who said it was going to happen,” said Robert J. O’Neill, the former Navy Seal who is said to have shot Osama Bin Laden during the May 2011, raid that ended the 9/11 terrorist leader’s life. “And it is most certainly going to happen again.”

The retired Seal, turned motivational speaker, was the first presenter in the Yakima Capitol Theatre’s 2019-2020 Town Hall series. Prior to taking the stage, O’Neill spoke to the press about his purpose in touring, speaking and his life after his military service.

Raised in Butte, Montana, O’Neill reached the pinnacle of his Navy service when he was part of the Seal team selected to participate in what he called, “the most important mission in modern history.”

O’Neill said his participation in the assignment which culminated in the death of Osama Bin Laden, was a matter of being prepared and “being in the right place at the right time.” He also said his visit to rural central Washington was as important to a visit to any other setting in his tour.

“Yakima is America. America is Yakima. Today is a difficult and important day and the messages I have need to be shared everywhere,” said O’Neill.

Responding to a series of questions about defending the U.S. from another attack, O’Neill spoke of the ongoing concern he holds for terrorism.

“We need to protect our borders, but we refuse to. The enemy knows this, knows how we operate and will use it,” O’Neill responded. He also noted, “. . . a photo opp with the Taliban was not a good idea,” on the White House’s recent invitation and cancellation to Taliban leaders to come to Camp David for peace talks.

“We need younger people to make strategic decisions. We do not need four-star generals anymore. We have not won a war since 1945. The world has changed. Young people understand these new rules of engagement,” said O’Neill.

Part of O’Neill’s promotion was also for his new book, “The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior,” and for his foundation, “Your Grateful Nation.” O’Neill’s life story is also scheduled to hit the big screen at a to be determined date.

Deb Brumley can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 114 or email DBrumley@sunnysidesun.com

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