John O'Neill was born in Adelaide, South Australia in 1941. Unfit for active service because he suffered from pleurisy, his father served in the Australian Army as an Intelligence Officer for the duration of the war. At the end of the war, the family moved to Melbourne, but now his father, as a civilian, joined the Naval Intelligence Service. In due course the family relocated to Brisbane, Queensland because of his father's health.
John went to Upper Mt Gravatt state school, where he became the school prefect and excelled at sport. John went on to Cavendish Road High School and in keeping with his athletic skills set a record for the under 15 High Jump height which still stands today. He applied for and was selected to enter the new Royal Australian Navy’s Apprenticeship scheme in 1956. The four years there saw John graduate as a Fitter, and Turner and then sent to sea in a Destroyer in 1960.
In 1963 Australia intended to purchase its first submarines from the Royal Navy, and John volunteered, spending the next six years training and serving in Royal Navy submarines, eventually joining the build crew of the first Australian submarine in Greenock, Scotland. John then sat the Officer Commission exam and selected to undergo Officer training at Greenwich Naval College, graduating as an Acting Sublieutenant. John went on to attend the Royal Naval Engineering College, Manadon, graduating as a commissioned engineer officer. Instead of returning home, he attended the Royal Navy Submarine School in Gosport in the south of England. After qualifying as a Submarine Engineer Officer, John joined the Troop Ship HMAS Sydney, making many trips to Vietnam carrying the Australian army. John then served as the Submarine Technical Officer at the Submarine base HMAS Platypus, managing submarine maintenance and refits on Cockatoo Island.
John resigned from the Navy in 1984 and took up Law Studies at Sydney University, but the Submarine builder Kockums made a very generous offer to for John to assist in the proposed design of the Collins Class submarine, at their Shipyard in Malmo Sweden. John returned to Australia to negotiate the proposal to the Australian Navy. In the event, the Navy accepted the Kockums bid and John set up the Logistic Support facility at the Australian Submarine Corporation in Osborne. John left the Corporation in 1989 and started his own company Mercadier Pty Ltd. This group was a Software engineering company, developing programs for the Australian Defence force, and Industry. In particular, Mercadier developed a revolutionary tracking system called Mi-Trek that was installed in trucks and cars.
The construction company John Hindmarsh purchased Mercadier in 2003, and John became the Executive Director of the not-for-profit organisation, Technical Aid for the Disabled, in the ACT. After six years at TADACT, John left the group and moved to the Defence Materiel Organisation, as a project manager. During this time, John studied for and was admitted as a Master of Business and Technology from the University of New South Wales.
In 2010, John was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his contribution to the Community.
At age 74, John retired to write books. CLICK HERE to read how he was inspired