The Only Survivor
June 12, 2007
[UPDATE] Here is the link to a video of Marcus’s interview with Today’s Matt Lauer.
Close your eyes for a moment and attempt to place yourself in this scenario. Youâ€™re a member of an elite group in the US Armed Forces. You and your teammates (thereâ€™s just 4 of you) have been dropped into a remote and dangerous area and given the mission of finding and capturing or killing an enemy leader. But something goes wrongâ€¦ terribly wrong. Suddenly you come across some locals, unarmed locals. Your team has a decision to make. Should you kill them? Doing so would go against military rules of engagement. Should you let them go and hope they didnâ€™t alert the enemy to your presence? Imagine now that one of your teammates wanted to kill them, one wanted to let them go and the third chose not go vote one way or the other, so it was up to you to cast the deciding vote. What would you do?
One man, the lone survivor of these 4 men, made a decision. A decision which haunts him to this day. In the end he chose not to kill the unarmed civilians and let them go free. A short time later, enemy fighters overran him and his teammates, and this man believes that the civilians whose lives they had spared, had alerted the enemy. After a fierce 2 hour battle, only this man remained alive. Severely injured, but alive. He face was scored by lacerations and bloodied, his nose was broken and he had 3 cracked vertebrae from tumbling down a ravine. His clothing was tattered and mostly missing, after an enemy RPG tore off his pants and savaged his body with shrapnel.
Imagine how alone he felt. How terrified of being discovered by the enemy. Imagine him second-guessing the decision he had made, the guilt he was feeling at the deaths of his teammates. Imagine the thoughts running through his head, as he struggled for survival. Imagine the anger and thoughts of revenge that raced through his mind. Imagine fighting to stay alive. Imagine what would be going through your head in those moments.
Imagine, watching in horror as an enemy rocket shot down the helicopter that was sent to rescue you and your teammates. Imagine the loss of hope you might feel. Imagine how powerless you might feel. Imagine, in the still that followed the crash of the helicopter, the thoughts you might have. Imagine not giving in to hopelessness and gathering your resolve to survive. Imagine being unable to walk or to run to safety, but instead having to drag yourself, leaving a bloody trail behind your body. Imagine the strains of Toby Keithâ€™s â€œAmerican Soldierâ€ going through your headâ€¦ â€œIâ€™ll bear that cross with honor, because freedom donâ€™t come freeâ€¦â€
Youâ€™re probably asking yourself, who this servicemember is. Youâ€™re probably thinking that this story seems vaguely familiar. Yes, this story should be familiar to you. Many of you may recall stories that Iâ€™ve done, on March 14th and April 6th about one of his teammates. This soldier, Navy Petty Officer First Class Mark Luttrell, is the surviving member of Navy Seal Team 10, which was comprised of himself, Lt. Michael Murphy, Petty Officer Matthew Axelson and Petty Officer Danny Dietz who were given the mission, code-named Operation Redwing, to capture or kill Ahmad Shah, a Taliban leader believed to have close ties to Osama bin Laden.
Navy Petty Officer First Class Marcus Luttrell has written about this experience, the Heroes he served with on that fateful mission, the Afghan civilians who found and protected him and the Heroes who rescued him, in a book, which was released today. That book is titled, â€œLone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account Of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10.â€ I pre-ordered the book yesterday and will hopefully receive it soon. I plan to give a review of it, once it arrives and I’ve had the opportunity to read it. This is a story, which deserves to be told. This is a story of heroism, bravery, danger, courage, grief, painful loss and finally a story of hope. Order your copy of Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10 by clicking on the title. Please keep Marcus Luttrell as well as his fallen commrades in your thoughts and prayers.
[UPDATE] Matt over at Blackfive also has a story up about Marcus Luttrell’s book.