Lone Survivor: The eyewitness account of Operation Redwing and the lost heroes of SEAL team 10 is a true story, that like most books about the SEALs, starts out for the most part with BUD/S. There is a bit of a lead up to this and it starts with Marcus Luttrell, the lone survivor, going through his tough, country style upbringing in Texas. At a very young age Luttrell decides he wants to become a Navy Seal, seeking out help and training from a former Green Beret named Billy Shelton.
The next portion of the book falls into the typical SEAL book. It begins with Luttrell’s sign-up with the Navy, leads through a short section of basic training, then takes the reader through BUD/S including the much documented “Hell Week.” I won’t go into the details of these portions, since it has been written about and shown on television so much. Lone Survivor does go through Luttrell’s specific experiences, difficulties, and accomplishments as well as moving into the less documented Demolitions and Tactics Training and a fascinating brief on sniper school.
Next it is off to Afghanistan for a variety of different missions with a few details included. This leads into what becomes the primary mission and bulk of the book; Operation Redwing. A high up Taliban leader and known associate of Osama Bin Laden had risen up a most wanted list and it was up to Luttrell and his men to capture or kill him.
On June 27 th, 2005 Marcus Luttrell, Danny Dietz, Michael Murphy, and Matthew Axelson, all SEALs, roped out of a helicopter into the rugged terrain of Afghanistan to take out their target. Luttrell initially had worries about the terrain and lack of cover that later proved just. The four SEALs quickly realized they were getting into any sniper’s worst nightmare, difficult terrain with no cover of any kind, so they had to backtrack and try to find better routes and hides.
After being dug in for quite sometime, a trio of goat herders stumble upon the SEALS, causing a difficult moral and tactical decision. They knew if they let the three of them go they would more than likely notify Taliban members in the area, but if they killed them there would be not only moral issues to deal with, but right or wrong they would also be crucified by the liberal media. The SEALs knew it would not matter whether it was the correct tactical decision and that by letting them go they may be causing their own deaths. After a lengthy discussion and tense vote, they decided to let the herders go.
It did not take long at all to pay the price for this decision. Taliban fighters began arriving on the top of the hill above the SEALs, searching for them. The SEALs were greatly outnumbered and once the firing started they truly had no reprieve as the Taliban fighters continuously rained down gunfire and RPGs from their superior position. Luttrell and his men had to constantly provide cover fire, retreat, and try to protect their flanks.
The SEALs amazingly held their own for quite some time, but with so much lead coming down at them it was only a matter of time before the began taking hits. With unbelievable courage and valor, they would take hits, lock and load and keep blasting away at the enemy. Even with repetitive mortal wounds these studs would continue to pick their targets and fire away. However, the human body can only take so much damage before shutting down and for Danny, Michael (Mikey), and Matthew (Axe) that point was reached, leaving Marcus Luttrell on his own.
Blown off a mountain and badly injured, Luttrell now had to hide and evade the enemies. Confrontation was out of the question, but still occurred in a few fire fights that Luttrell was able to come out of victorious and quickly move on to stay away from the enemy.
Members of Luttrell’s SDV Team 1 and Navy SEAL Team 10 got word of what was happening and immediately assembled and flew out in a MH-47 helicopter. The heroic rescue team arrived at a drop location and once the back hatched was opened tragedy struck. A Taliban fighter launched a RPG directly through the open door, exploding inside the helicopter. The shot was disastrous, blowing the MH-47 out of the sky and killing everyone on board.
Finally a bit of luck was had by Luttrell who was found by an Afghan that was not in favor of the Taliban, so he helped get the injured SEAL back to his village. The tribe decides to grant him Lokhay, which basically means the village will help, shelter, and most importantly protect him with their lives. This ends up being more than talk and the villagers truly risk everything to keep Luttrell safe.
Lone Survivor finishes up with a wrap up of Luttrell’s experiences after the ordeal. It is an absolutely amazing account of heroism and courage. Reading the book not only gives me a greater appreciation for our Navy SEALs, but also for all our military personnel. Thank you to all that serve and have served!