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Luttrell, Marcus 1975-

Luttrell, Marcus 1975-


Born 1975.


Writer. Military service: U.S. Navy, c. 1991-c. 2006, served as Navy SEAL.


(With Patrick Robinson) Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 (memoir), Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2007.


Marcus Luttrell had been a member of the elite U.S. Navy SEALs for more than ten years when he and three fellow SEALs were assigned a mission to track and capture or kill an Afghani warlord with ties to the terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. The year was 2005, and the mission would turn bad. In an interview with Glenn Beck published on, the author explained: "We were also to pick up further on intelligence about him, coordinating and executing complex tasks against coalition forces in this particular area. It was a—a remote area near the Paki border that didn't see much play from the US military."

Luttrell teams with Patrick Robinson to tell the story of the mission in Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10. As told by Luttrell and Robinson, the mission was suddenly compromised when the four SEALs were accidentally stumbled upon by some Afghani goat herders. The SEALs began asking questions about the Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan with an iron hand before the U.S. invasion, and also tried to determine if the goat herders were friendly and could be trusted. Luttrell told Beck: "My feeling after dealing with a lot—most of—every operation we had been on, just you can tell when someone doesn't really care for you. And when you look at someone's eyes, whether they—you know, they like you or they don't. And on top of which they weren't answering any of our questions."

Writing in the Washington Post, Laura Blumenfeld directly explained the dilemma: "If the Seals killed the unarmed civilians, they would violate military rules of engagement; if they let them go, they risked alerting the Taliban." Luttrell and Robinson write that, despite Luttrell's misgivings that they might betray the team's presence in the remote area, Luttrell and one other team member voted to let the goat herders go free, one team member voted to execute them, and one abstained. Not long after releasing the goat herders, the SEALs found that they had been betrayed as they were soon attacked by an estimated 140 or more Taliban fighters. "During this battle, which Luttrell describes in great detail in his book," wrote Sean D. Naylor on the NavyTimes Web site, "the SEALs fought heroically against overwhelming odds as they tried to retreat down the mountainside to the flat ground, where they figured they could find cover in the village and hold out until help arrived."

In the book, Luttrell and Robinson describe the ensuing battle in detail and the efforts of the four Navy SEALs to escape. Luttrell's three comrades—Lieutenant Michael Murphy, Sonar Technician Second Class Matthew Axelson, and Gunner's Mate Second Class Danny Dietz—all died heroically, according to Luttrell. Axelson and Dietz received the Navy Cross posthumously, and Michael Murphy was recommended for the Medal of Honor. As for Luttrell, he was injured during the battle and eventually knocked unconscious by a mortar shell. He received shelter from a Pashtun tribesman, who obviously risked his own life by protecting an American in the Taliban-infested area. Several days later, Luttrell was rescued by U.S. Army Rangers and Special Forces. Fortunately, Luttrell's injuries were temporary. However, the book goes on to highlight Luttrell's own nightmares as he dreams of the battle and hears one of his comrade's dying screams.

"Lone Survivor is every bit as thrilling as Mark Bowden's 1999 bestseller Black Hawk Down—but it is also provides a disturbing insight into the physiology, psychology and politics of elite soldiers," wrote Edward Nawotka in the New Statesman. Will Holahan, writing in the Officer, commented: "For aficionados of SEAL lore, this one has it all."



Luttrell, Marcus, and Patrick Robinson, Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10, Little (New York, NY), 2007.


Daily Press (Newport News, VA), July 3, 2007, "Navy Hero Chronicles Story"; July 11, 2007, "From the SEAL's Mouth: New Book Describes His Harrowing Experience."

Houston Chronicle, July 2, 2007, Fritz Lanham, "A War Hero from Huntsville Will Rue Forever a Decision Made on a Mountain in Afghanistan: A Life or Death Choice," p. 1; July 5, 2007, Laura Isensee, "Hometown Heroes: Willis Resident Reflects on Surviving Battle; Marcus Luttrell Pens Book to Honor Fallen Navy SEAL Teammates," p. 2; July 5, 2007, "Hometown Heroes: Willis Resident Reflects on Surviving Major Battle," p. 1.

Morning Edition (broadcast transcript), August 13, 2007, Steve Inskeep, "A Former Navy SEAL Questions Rules of War."

New Statesman, September 10, 2007, Edward Nawotka, "The Last Action Hero," p. 55.

New York Times, August 9, 2007, Motoko Rich, "He Lived to Tell the Tale," p. E1.

Officer, November 2007, Will Holahan, "What Would You Have Done?," p. 55.

Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA), July 12, 2007, "Battle-Hardened SEAL Visits Families of Those Who Didn't Make It"; July 14, 2007, "Interview: Ex-SEAL Is ‘Lone Survivor’ from Afghanistan Battle."

Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2007, Mark Lasswell, "Lone Survivor," p. 9.

Washington Post, June 11, 2007, Laura Blumenfeld, "The Sole Survivor: A Navy Seal, Injured and Alone, Was Saved by Afghans' Embrace and Comrades' Valor," p. A01.


Gazing at the Flag, (July 27, 2007), review of Lone Survivor., (June 21, 2007), Glenn Beck, "Interview with Marcus Luttrell, Author of Lone Survivor."

NavyTimes, (June 25, 2007), Sean D. Naylor, "Surviving SEAL Tells Story of Deadly Mission.", (June 12, 2007), Michael Rothfeld, "SEAL's Father: Survivor's Book Dishonors Son's Memory."

One Minute Book Reviews, (August 13, 2007), Janice Harayda, review of Lone Survivor.

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