Lone Survivor is a book based on a true story. The story begins in the year 2005, just a few years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City. In this book, Marcus Luttrell, the co-author and main character of Lone Survivor, tells us of his horrific experience on his deployment to Afghanistan. I chose Lone Survivor because that was one of the army-related books I had yet to read and heard there was an amazing new movie to back it up. The beginning starts off by portraying how torturous and intense the training is for the Navy SEALs. It actually takes over 30 months to train a Navy SEAL to the point where he is ready for deployment. The SEALs that complete the training are capable of performing pretty much any task thrown at them, including diving, combat swimming, navigation, demolitions, weapons, parachuting, and many more. Marcus Luttrell regards the Navy SEAL training as, “ An unrelenting desire to push yourself further than anyone could ever think possible.” In addition, Lone Survivor seemed to especially stress the bonds and friendships that were formed from the extreme Navy SEAL training – or as they’d like to call it – a band of brothers.
Throughout the entire movie, you can tell that the SEALs’ bonds were a lot stronger than that of average, everyday friends you would see walking down the street. I cannot know for sure but maybe it comes from putting their lives on the line as a close-knit brotherhood for the United States of America, just maybe. The setting of Lone Survivor begins at the Bagram Air Base, which is an airfield in Afghanistan. Bagram Air Base is where Petty Officer Macrus Luttrell, Lieutenant Michael Murphy, Petty Officer Danny Dietz, and Petty Officer Matt Axelson receive their Operation Orders to do reconnaissance on Ahmad Shah. The mission became known as Operation Red Wings Operation Red Wings was a joint military operation during the War in Afghanistan in the Pech District of Afghanistan’s Kunar Province, on the slopes of a mountain named Sawtalo Sar. On June 28, 2005, the covert Navy SEAL mission, Operation Red Wings, went horribly wrong and resulted in the deaths of a total of nineteen American troops.
Three of the deaths that occurred were on Marcus Luttrell’s reconnaissance team. I felt the overall theme of the book Lone Survivor was the importance of friendship, teamwork, and never giving up. In the book, time and time again the brotherhood of these four Navy SEAL sailors proves to be an imperative factor in the final success of the mission Operation Red Wing. With their bonds, they had to overcome several obstacles as a unit and team in order to complete the mission. Unfortunately, several soldiers lost their lives in the process of this mission but their legacies live on. These soldiers lived by one of the most important codes in the American military which is to never give up. Especially the four reconnaissance Navy SEALs, whom, while even after being shot at, continued to lay down suppressive fire in hopes of one of them completing the mission. Marcus Luttrell is the main character of the book Lone Survivor. According to the book, he was and is a brave and true Navy SEAL. This elite sailor not only survived jumping off of a cliff, but also survived several fire fights and even an RPG attack. The book describes him as a strongly built man with dark hair and a broad jaw line.
Billy Shelton, who was for some reason absent from the movie’s portrayal of the Lone Survivor, was the man who helped Marcus and his twin brother, Morgan, train to become Navy SEALs, before they were of age to sign up. Billy was an ex-marine with a stocky build. Billy was a ruthless trainer for the Luttrells, but he knew what needed to be done to develop two elite SEALs. The book describes Billy Shelton as an older gentleman who was of average height and going bald. Petty Officer Matthew Axelson was depicted as smart, brave, and an all-around American hero. Axelson was tall with short dark hair. Matthew Axelson was also married to a woman named Cindy. Macrus Luttrell thought greatly of Axelson and mentioned that, “ He held the left flank on the mountain for two hours, under fire. He was shot twice, both times badly hurt, but he still kept fighting.” Lieutenant Michael Murphy was very strong, hilarious, and also brave. Murphy was a man who risked his life to call in support for his comrades. It was said that he was shot about five times and still hung on to fight for several more minutes. The book describes him as also being tall, dark haired, and married.
Last of the four man recon team was Petty Officer Danny Dietz. Danny Dietz was known to be one of Marcus Luttrell’s closest friends. During the fire fights, Danny Dietz provided his brothers with cover fire all afternoon. He soon got wounded but still kept fighting until he took his last breath. The book describes Dietz as having relatively the same build as the rest of them. The last of the important characters of Lone Survivor is Ahmad Shah. Ahmad Shaw was a militia leader, aligned with the Taliban, who commanded a group of insurgents. His death and the death of his insurgents was the ultimate reason for Operation Red Wings. “ Operation Red Wing is a go!” was what Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell, Petty Officer Matthew Axelson, Lieutenant Michael Murphy, and Petty Officer Danny Dietz had been really anxious to hear. These Navy SEALs’ mission was to exterminate a high valued Taliban target known as Ahmad Shah and his insurgents. A short time after midnight they were extracted into the mountains of Hindu Kush.
During the mission and upon awakening, they had been compromised – not by the Taliban but by goat herders. The Navy SEALS were then left with a tough decision to either let them go or kill these unarmed “ civilians”; it turned out to be a difficult decision. With the many rules of engagement laws and I’m sure their morals, they decided to let them go and just abort the mission by retreating up into the mountains and radioing for extraction. As it turns out, one of the goat herders was in fact a Taliban informant. So while trying to get the radio and communications to work, they realized the Taliban had been closing in on them. Marcus Luttrell looked through his scope, put the crosshairs on a Taliban insurgent and pulled the trigger which, in my opinion, marked the beginning of one of the most distressing stories any modern day sailor has ever lived through. Bullets were being shot and flying every which way and the Taliban insurgents were getting killed left and right. However, the four Navy SEALs were outnumbered and kept getting closed in on.
After a while, they were forced to jump down mountain sides several times in order to survive. During the fire fight, Danny Dietz was critically wounded. Marcus Luttrell then went to protect and cover Danny but Danny was soon shot in the head which ended his life. Not much later, both Axelson and Murphy were also shot. Pushing through, they both didn’t give up and kept fighting the Taliban for as long as they could before they eventually died, leaving Marcus Luttrell as the only living SEAL at the moment. The pressure was still on but Marcus Luttrell happened to be found by an Afghani man who was passing through. Obviously suspicious of the man, Marcus Luttrell tried to question the Afghani but there was a language barrier. Fortunately, the Afghani man seemed as if he wanted to help and took Marcus Luttrell to his nearby village where Marcus’ wounds were treated. Soon after, Marcus Luttrell was finally rescued by American soldiers who were dispatched to retrieve the Navy SEALs.
Four Navy SEALs left for that mountain, knowing that their lives could be lost, to protect the country they loved very dearly. Sadly, three of those heroes died in combat serving their country, but one survived to tell the tale. I cannot imagine seeing all of my brothers shot and killed in front of me but Marcus Luttrell has to relive it every day. All four of these Navy SEALs will be remembered forever for their courageous acts of valor in the face of an American enemy and their will to never give up, disregarding the odds. Lastly, a lot of the glory goes to these four SEALs, as it should, but I also have an immense amount of respect for the Afghan villagers who helped save Marcus Luttrell’s life. The villagers helped Marcus Luttrell did so out of duty to their 2000 year old code of honor, known as Pashtunwali. Pashtunwali requires a tribe to undertake the responsibility of safeguarding an individual against his enemies and protecting him at all costs. These brave men and women of the village still thrive today in the harsh mountains of Afghanistan, while their fight against the Taliban continues. I thoroughly enjoyed Lone Survivor and it was an excellent dedication to the men of Operation Red Wing, Navy SEALs, and the military of the United States of America.