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Watch: Navy SEAL Rob O’Neill who shot Bin Laden reveals his BUD/s struggles

Robert J. O'Neill speaking at the 2018 CPAC in National Harbor, Maryland. (Gage Skidmore/Released)
April 26, 2021

During an interview with the podcast, “Team Never Quit,” Rob O’Neill recounted his initial difficulty with progressing through SEAL training.

BUD/s is the initial accession pipeline that all SEALs must pass in order to continue their extensive training within the specialized warfare community.

Rob O’Neill is credited within the SEAL community, and the American population at large, for being the famous SEAL team member who killed Osama Bin Laden during the famed “Operation Neptune Spear” mission in May 2011 in Pakistan.

In the beginning of the interview, O’Neill recounts not being a particularly strong runner, but told a comical story in which he made a bet after smoking cigarettes that he would win the next running event. He eventually won and was afforded the luxury of having his drinks bought for him all weekend.

Rob O’Neill. (Team Never Quit podcast, YouTube screenshot)

Initially O’Neill wanted to be a Marine, but was unable to contact a recruiter, so he decided to try the SEALs out since they also had snipers. Rob, although discussing the irony in his situation, described the positive things that resulted from his very naïve decision—a free trip to San Diego, opportunities to train with incredible men, receive fantastic training, and learned how to keep a positive mindset throughout.

Rob describes another story during a later part of his SEAL training, described as “the Island,” which spanned roughly forty days and was an extensive training exercise. He had a partner who he said was notorious for screwing up, often resulting in punishing trips to the surf line that was referred to as getting “wet and sandy.” It was a reoccurring and miserable experience.

Rob further in the story tells that there was a mishap with one of the underwater demolitions that created a condition in which no one was allowed into the water for at least 72 hours. The instructors were then unable to send Rob and his teammate into the water as punishment but were looking for another solution. Rob hilariously described how he volunteered to use the water hose to douse his partner every hour if it meant that he would not be required to get into the water because of his partner’s problems.

Team Never Quit podcast hosts David Rutherford and Marcus Luttrell interview Rob O’Neill. (Team Never Quit podcast, YouTube screenshot)

The “Team Never Quit” podcast highlighted a lot of the ordinary realities of the mystical SEAL warriors—that these are normal men with very unnormal grit and determination to persevere through adversary. When looking at a SEAL from the outside, they look normal. They are not physical sculptures of body builders—they are normal men. However, on the inside, through trial and adversity, the true characteristics of these elite warriors come out. This podcast provides a glimpse into some of those special attributes.