Marcus Luttrell’s story, along with Danny Dietz, Matthew Axelson, and Michael Murphy deserves to be known by all. I’ve written multiple posts on the heroism of these Navy Seal’s (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7) and still, 2 years later, those posts get many hits from those doing google searches on these men. That warms my heart to know that people are interested in their story instead of it fading away.
War forces terrible decisions on young men. No one knows that better than Marcus Luttrell.
In June 2005, on a barren mountain high in the Taliban-infested Hindu Kush, Luttrell and three fellow Navy SEALs came together to talk. Their mission — to locate and possibly take out an important Taliban leader hiding in the Afghan village below — had just been compromised. Three goatherds, one a boy of about 14, had blundered onto their position. Sitting against a log under the watchful eyes of their captors, the Afghans clearly weren’t happy to see the Americans. On the other hand, they were unarmed, technically civilians.
As about 100 goats milled about, Petty Officers Matthew Axelson, Danny Dietz and Luttrell, and their commander, Lt. Michael Murphy, discussed what to do. Having tried and failed earlier to make radio contact with their home base, they were on their own.
As they saw it, they had two options: kill the Afghans, or let them go and hope for the best. They let them go.
It’s a decision Luttrell bitterly regrets.
Within hours, more than 100 Taliban fighters descended on the SEAL team. In the terrible gun battle that followed, Murphy, Axelson and Dietz died. A few miles away, a Taliban grenade brought down a rescue helicopter on its way to help the trapped men, killing all 16 aboard. It was the worst day in the 40-year history of the Navy SEALs.[…]Luttrell, who received his Navy discharge early last month and has moved back to Walker County, discussed Lone Survivor recently over lunch in downtown Houston. His 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame squeezed into his only civilian suit, he wasn’t enjoying himself. He admits he hates doing interviews. In the book, he expresses frequent disdain for the "liberal media" and "liberals" in general, whom he blames for imposing naive rules of engagement that jeopardize American lives, and for second-guessing difficult, split-second decisions soldiers in combat must make. While polite, ending sentences with a military-style "sir," he’s intense and terse.
His friends’ deaths remain raw and immediate and understandably painful to talk about. "Thirty seconds of every minute," he shot back when asked how often he thinks of that day. He can’t sleep. He just goes until he collapses, he said. Then the nightmares jerk him back awake.
"The endless guilt of the survivor," as he puts it in the prologue of the book.
What was the right thing to do on the mountain? In the book, Luttrell describes how the team talked it out, trying to find the best course of action. If they killed the men, they worried, the American media would get wind of it, and they’d be charged with murder.
Luttrell wondered what great commanders in the past — Napoleon, Omar Bradley, MacArthur — would have done.
"Would they have made the ice-cold military decision to execute these cats because they posed a clear and present danger to their men?"
On the other hand, he felt the promptings of "another soul. My Christian soul."
"Something kept whispering in the back of my mind, it would be wrong to execute these unarmed men in cold blood."
He reports that Axelson favored killing the goatherds. Dietz was neutral. Murphy and Luttrell voted to let them go.
"It was the stupidest, most southern-fried, lamebrained decision I ever made in my life," Luttrell writes. "I must have been out of my mind. I had actually cast a vote which I knew could sign our death warrant. I’d turned into a (expletive) liberal, a half-assed, no-logic nitwit, all heart, no brain, and the judgment of a jack rabbit.
"At least, that’s how I look back on those moments now. Probably not then, but for nearly every waking hour of my life since. No night passes when I don’t wake in a cold sweat thinking of those moments on that mountain. I’ll never get over it."[…]Three times the SEALs threw themselves down the sheer face of the mountain to escape the Afghans, who were coming at them from three sides. Axelson, Dietz and Murphy all sustained numerous wounds but kept fighting. Near the end, Murphy deliberately exposed himself, moving into an open space to try to make his cell phone work. He managed to get through.
"My guys are dying out here … we need help," he told headquarters before a bullet in the back knocked him to the ground. He struggled back to cover and continued fighting. It was that cell-phone call that summoned the ill-fated helicopter rescuers.
Dietz died first, followed by Murphy, whose cries for help, Luttrell, pinned down, couldn’t answer. In his nightmares, he still hears those cries.
As he cradled a dying Axelson in his arms, a grenade blew them apart and tossed Luttrell into a ravine.
His friends gone, Luttrell managed to work himself out of sight of the enemy. But he was in bad shape — his legs full of shrapnel, his nose broken, three cracked vertebrae in his back. That night and the next day, he dragged his wounded body over the mountains in a desperate search for water.
He then goes on to detail how he was saved by villagers who gave him aid and refused to turn him over to the Taliban. It’s a harrowing tale and a must read. Also, Laura Ingraham interviewed Marcus on Tuesday and if the book is a must read, this audio is a must listen. It’s almost to hard to describe, he begins telling their story as a rock solid Navy Seal until she asks a bit more on Danny, Matthew, and Michael….then the pain in this man’s voice is just….well, you’ll see.
After reading this interview and listening to the audio of the Laura interview I sure hope Marcus understands that we’re all behind him. As one of the callers stated, God wasn’t through with him yet.
The Danny Dietz memorial finally went up on July 4th despite protests from liberals in his hometown:
A group of Littleton parents is opposing the design and location of a memorial to a fallen local Navy SEAL, Danny Dietz, who died in combat in Afghanistan two years ago.
They say the statue, depicting Dietz clutching an automatic rifle, glorifies violence. In Berry Park, it would be within blocks of three schools and two playgrounds.
"I don’t think young children should be exposed to that in that way – unsupervised by their parents or any adults," said Emily Cassidy, one of the mothers.
The parents have circulated fliers opposing the design and location of the statue at the southeast corner of South Lowell Boulevard and West Berry Avenue, in a triangle formed by Goddard Middle School, Community School
They sent a letter to school board members, nearby residents, members of parent-teacher organizations and others to protest "the statue’s particular location."
Linda Cuesta, the parent of a child who was at Columbine High School during the deadly April 1999 shootings, said that memory "colors everything in my life," but she is sympathetic to the Dietz family.
"As much as it breaks my heart to do this, we have to weigh the effect of the statue in this particular place against the family’s feelings," she said.
Shocker! A liberal can’t tell the difference between a hero who fights for our country and a couple criminal kids who purposely kill innocent school kids.
Anyways, the memorial went up on the 4th: (via Blackfive)
We got to the park just after 9:30 am. Already there were about 100 people there, not including the many Patriot Guard riders who had been standing guard over Danny’s statue. As time went on – the park slowly filled up. I took a picture of the covered statue with our Flag standing next to it and a Navy guard alongside.
Something happened to show us all that this day was even more special. Three different times before the 11am ceremony started – 2 Bald Eagles slowly circled around above us. It was if they knew what the gathering was about and they were standing guard as well.
Just before the ceremony I took another picture of a line of the Patriot Guard Riders standing from the corner of Berry and King all the way down the street – at least 2-3 blocks worth. In my mind I termed it the Avenue of Flags because they were all holding an American Flag.
As the ceremony started – I took a quick look around and estimated an incredibly large crowd had gathered. There were many Navy personnel in attendance as well as a few each of Marine, Air Force, and Army. The crowd was amazing, not one bit of trouble from anyone. Complete respect was offered by all.[….]Congressman Tancredo told us that he couldn’t think of anything better to give a speech on – that Danny’s citation would say it all. So, he read the citation to a very silent crowd who absorbed every word. [….]Tiffany had me in tears with her speech. The family, friends and community of Littleton have been so great to them. She gave special recognition to the mother of one of Danny’s teammates who died with him, and to the wife of one of the men who died trying to save them. She also gave recognition to the young man who is the first recipient of the Danny Dietz scholarship. She told us that we need to live well and strive to be the best at whatever we do – never forgetting that our FREEDOM is the most important thing to cherish because that freedom gives us the opportunity in this country to attain whatever goal we set for ourselves.
Those who understand the heroism of these men, that serving your country is a noble and just cause, will never forget the sacrifices these men made. Marcus Luttrell, Danny Dietz, Matthew Axelson, and Michael Murphy…..your sacrifices will never be forgotten.