Twitter | @mchooyah

Ex-SEAL Who Killed Bin Laden Flouts Airline Mask Policy In Controversial Tweet

For 15 years, Robert James O’Neill served in the prestigious Navy SEALs and ended his military career as a member of the elite SEAL Team Six. As The Washington Post reported, this career saw him participate in a series of dangerous missions that included the rescue of merchant marine Capt. Richard Phillips, whose story was later dramatized in the 2013 film Captain Phillips.

However, O’Neill is best known for being the first to breach the infamous terrorist leader Osama bin Laden's bedroom at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan and for firing the shot that ended Al-Qaeda founder's life in 2011. He has since started working as a motivational speaker.

Yet a recent tweet aboard a crowded flight has left Twitter users finding it hard to reconcile his military heroism with an apparent disregard for his fellow passengers.

In a now-deleted tweet, O’Neill posted a selfie in which he showed a satisfied smile that was apparently inspired by his refusal to wear a face mask.

Twitter | @mchooyah

At least, that's the only way for this photo to show any connection to his caption.

In other tweets that also no longer exist on his account, O-Neill further elaborated on why he wasn't wearing a mask.

Reddit | kyberton

As The Daily Dot reported, this included the claim, "Do you remember the complete, incompetent morons buying all of the toilet paper? They’re the ones telling you to wear masks now."

He also went on to claim that face masks provide "no protection whatsoever." He has more recently retweeted an article from the University of Minnesota's Center For Infectious Disease Research and Policy, which highlighted the limitations of cloth masks as a means of protection from contracting COVID-19.

However, it's worth noting that this article doesn't claim they do nothing, nor does it suggest people should stop following mandates to wear them. It instead recommends not treating them as a replacement for physical distancing.

O'Neill's tweet attracted immediate backlash from other users, who responded both to his lack of a mask and his statement.

Some also noticed that a man with a U.S. Marine Corps hat in the background was wearing a mask and suspected O'Neill's caption was directed at him.

O'Neill has since clarified that he had no intention of denigrating the man behind him or the Marine Corps.

Nonetheless, users didn't see much reason for O'Neill to feel proud of his tweet.

As this person pointed out, the apparent fact that the marine's presence behind him was a coincidence does not address the lack of consideration shown for his safety.

As it was soon revealed that O'Neill's photo was taken on a Delta flight, users contacted the company about its mask policy.

As we can see, a representative from the company reiterated the airline's policy requiring both customers and employees to wear face masks.

However, the user's follow-up tweet about how they intend to respond to the viral photo received no response.

In an apparent response to other comments wondering why his more explicitly anti-mask tweets were deleted, O'Neill posted this statement.

While some users found this hard to believe, others including video game designer Cliff Bleszinski suggested she made the right decision.