So many who died on 9/11 shared an ethnic heritage with him.
Their families will be comforted to think that the last sight Bin Laden saw was a tall, red-headed Irishman aiming his rifle at him. It was poetic justice for them.
O’Neill told the Washington Post on Thursday that he spoke to 9/11 family victims recently and that convinced him to come out publicly as he saw how it gave them solace.
O’Neill described in an anonymous interview last year in Esquire magazine what it was like to learn he was on the mission to get Bin Laden.
The SEAL commander, cool as ever, said, "Okay, we're as close as we've ever been to UBL." And that was it. He kind of looked at us and we looked at him and nodded. There was none of that cheering bullshit.... We were thinking, Yeah, okay, good. It's about time...It was simple.
O’Neill described what happened when he pushed open the door to the bedroom where he knew bin Laden was hiding.“There was bin Laden, standing there. He had his hands on a woman’s shoulders pushing her ahead.” He shot him through the head three times.
About 1,000 of the 3,000 who died on 9/11 were either from Ireland or of Irish extraction. The reason the number is so high is that the Irish are overrepresented in the police, firefighters, emergency responders, especially in New York.
It is what the Irish have done since they came to America – guardians of the law, soldiers, firefighters – it comes naturally to them.
For those of us who remember the funeral dirges, the grief-stricken loved ones, especially the kids, and the deep and profound gloom that settled over all Americans the slaying of bin Laden was a small payback for that grief.
I wrote a book on the Irish who died called “Fire in the Morning” and I interviewed many of the Irish families who were so devastated.
Guys like Ron Clifford from Cork who lost his sister, Ruth McCourt, brother-in-law David McCourt and darling little niece Juliana.
By a horrible coincidence Ron was in the World Trade Center that day at a business meeting when the plane carrying his sister and her family crashed into it.
Then there was Moira Smith, the brave police woman with parents from Ireland, who shepherded so many out of the burning buildings before they collapsed. She lost her life in that collapse.
I will never forget her funeral, and her little daughter, and thinking of her mother snatched away so cruelly from her.
A few months before 9/11 we had hosted an event at the Windows on the World. Christopher Duffy, 23-year-old son of John Duffy, a major figure in Irish American business community, was there as was Joseph Berry, a senior figure at the same firm of Keefe Bruyette.
A few months later they were both dead. On the 10th anniversary John Duffy stated, “I don't want people to forget about the day, since I lost my son," says John Duffy. "But not everybody remembers.”
I know they will remember now, as this latest story unfolds.
So many more I could include, but suffice to say Rob O’Neill extracted some measure of justice for what happened to their loved ones,
That alone is not a bad thing.