By Brett Gillin
Some stories are too incredible to be real. What we see portrayed in Hollywood blockbusters, even when they’re billed as “True Stories” are often “spiced up” with more action than the original event to make it interesting to the viewing audience. The story of former Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell is not one of those stories. In fact, the movie that is being made about his heroism in the face of impossible odds may well have to leave some of the action out to make it seem believable. But Marcus Luttrell’s unbelievable story of how he survived is quite real, and his proclamation that he is not a hero is the only thing that rings untrue
In June of 2005, Operation Red Wings began deep in Afghanistan. According to The Daily Beast, The mission, in the Hindu Kush region in Northeastern Afghanistan, was to be a reconnaissance mission targeting one of the most dangerous Taliban commanders operating, Ahmad Shah. Ahmad Shah and the forces he commanded were taking a heavy toll on U.S. forces in the area, and something had to be done to stop him. So the United States Military decided to send the best of the best, a team of four Navy SEALs, to perform this special operation. Lt. Michael Murphy, Petty Officers Matthew Axelson, Danny Dietz, and Marcus Luttrell were those four Navy SEALS.
Just after being dropped behind enemy lines, the SEALs came upon a group of local goat herders, who saw them and identified them as military forces. The SEALs were suddenly faced with an impossible decision: Do they let these locals go about their business and risk them giving up their location to Taliban forces, or do they exterminate them and risk committing a war crime? The group decided to do what they felt was the right thing and let them go about their business. This decision may have been the worst one any of the men would ever make.
According to this article, as well as Luttrell’s own account, not even an hour passed before their team was ambushed by dozens of well-coordinated Taliban fighters. Despite the fact that these are some of the most well trained military men on the planet, they were badly outnumbered. Lt. Michael Murphy was killed as he was calling for backup. Petty Officers Matthew Axleson and Danny Dietz were killed shortly thereafter. The backup that Michael Murphy had called arrived a bit later, but the rescue helicopter was shot down by the Taliban, killing all 16 soldiers manning the chopper.
This left Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell alone, outgunned, and severely wounded, as his back had been broken earlier in the firefight. However there was no ‘quit’ in Marcus Luttrell. Only a staunch will to survive. Petty Officer Luttrell single handedly continued fighting off the Taliban until he found an opening to escape. Luttrell crawled for seven miles looking for shelter and water when a rocket propelled grenade exploded near him and forced him into a crevice.
Some time later, Luttrell was found by friendly Afghans, who took them back to their village and protected him from the Taliban fighters for several days until U.S. military forces extracted him. Luttrell is writing a book detailing his ordeal, and Hollywood is creating a movie called “Lone Survivor.” His actions in the face of near certain death are the stuff of legend, and The Bright is proud to call him a Fearcrusher.