Lone Survivor was the memoir of SEAL Marcus Luttrell, who is most famously known for being the lone survivor of a mission fraught with danger on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in 2005. His heroic tale was the subject of the movie Lone Survivor that starred Mark Wahlberg a few years ago. I was blown away by the way Luttrell was portrayed as a fearless soldier who was saved by his determination to stay alive against insurmountable odds.
I bought the memoir for my husband who raved about Luttrell’s story and insisted I read it. I was absolutely impressed with his heroism. The book began by providing Luttrell’s background and his path to the SEALS. He learned Navy SEALS training through a man in his neighborhood who treated young men as if they were in SEALS by making them endure the actual SEAL regimen and instilled the sense of brotherhood that is the foundation for the SEAL program. Through that, Luttrell knew that the SEALS would be a good fit for him.
Luttrell made some excellent points about the hypocritical approach America takes on combat. As he stood decked out in thousands of dollars of gear after spending hours upon hours to get through the rigorous training required to pass the SEAL program, he was hampered by America’s diplomatic approach to combat, which is never to be the aggressor. Obviously, the men are being placed in a hostile situation as they are heavily armed and expected to face known enemies, yet they are not permitted to protect themselves. They must be on the receiving end of aggression before they are permitted to engage even though the enemy over there has many faces including children, elders, and women.
That bureaucratic approach to combat was ultimately Luttrell’s undoing when a group of goat herders stumbled onto Luttrell’s stakeout location during a covert mission. His team had to let the goat herders go which allowed them to immediately relay Luttrell’s position to the Taliban who came after them with over hundred armed men. The resulting gun fight that Luttrell experienced and his ultimate road to survival was an astonishing journey that I could not even come close to restating here except to say that I cannot believe what Luttrell went through to survive.
For as mentally tough as the SEALS are, I appreciated how honest Luttrell was at the end of the book when he described how heartbroken the survivors were to have lost their brothers. I walked away from the book feeling so grateful for the heroic actions of every devoted SEAL.