Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10
By Marcus Luttrell
available on Amazon and eBay
On a clear night in late June 2005, four U.S. Navy SEALs left their base in northern Afghanistan for the mountainous Pakistani border. Their mission was to capture or kill a notorious al Qaeda leader known to be ensconced in a Taliban stronghold surrounded by a small but heavily armed force. Less then twenty-four hours later, only one of those Navy SEALs remained alive.
This is the story of fire team leader Marcus Luttrell, the sole survivor of Operation Redwing, and the desperate battle in the mountains that led, ultimately, to the largest loss of life in Navy SEAL history. But it is also, more than anything, the story of his teammates, who fought ferociously beside him until he was the last one left-blasted unconscious by a rocket grenade, blown over a cliff, but still armed and still breathing. Over the next four days, badly injured and presumed dead, Luttrell fought off six al Qaeda assassins who were sent to finish him, then crawled for seven miles through the mountains before he was taken in by a Pashtun tribe, who risked everything to protect him from the encircling Taliban killers. A six-foot-five-inch Texan, Leading Petty Officer Luttrell takes us, blow-by-blow, through the brutal training of America's warrior elite and the relentless rites of passage required by the Navy SEALs. He transports us to a monstrous battle fought in the desolate peaks of Afghanistan, where the beleaguered American team plummeted headlong a thousand feet down a mountain as they fought back through flying shale and rocks. In this rich , moving chronicle of courage, honor, and patriotism, Marcus Luttrell delivers one of the most powerful narratives ever written about modern warfare-and a tribute to his teammates, who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
From The Washington Post's Book World/ washingtonpost.com
If you're looking for a true story that showcases both American heroism and Afghani humanity, Marcus Luttrell's Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 (Little, Brown, $24.99), written with Patrick Robinson, may be the book for you. In June of 2005, Luttrell led a four-man team of Navy SEALs into the mountains of Afghanistan on a mission to kill a Taliban leader thought to be allied with Osama bin Laden. On foot, the team encountered two adult men and a teenage boy. A debate broke out as to whether the SEALs should summarily execute the trio to keep them from alerting the Taliban. Luttrell himself was called upon to make the decision. He was torn between considerations of morality and his survival instinct, and he points out that "any government that thinks war is somehow fair and subject to rules like a baseball game probably should not get into one. Because nothing's fair in war, and occasionally the wrong people do get killed."
Luttrell opted to spare the Afghanis' lives. About an hour later, the Taliban launched an attack that claimed nearly a hundred of their own men but also the lives of all the SEALs except Luttrell, who was left wounded.
Not long after that, the Taliban shot down an American rescue helicopter, killing all 16 men on board. Luttrell is sure that the three Afghanis he let go turned around and betrayed the SEALs.
But if nothing is fair in war, neither is anything foreordained. Luttrell was found by other Afghanis, one of whom claimed to be his village's doctor. Once again, Luttrell had to rely on his instincts. "There was something about him," Luttrell writes. "By now I'd seen a whole lot of Taliban warriors, and he looked nothing like any of them. There was no arrogance, no hatred in his eyes." Luttrell trusted the man and his colleagues, who took him back to their village, where the law of hospitality -- "strictly nonnegotiable" -- took hold. "They were committed to defend me against the Taliban," Luttrell writes, "until there was no one left alive."
The law held, and Luttrell survived, returned home and received the Navy Cross for combat heroism from President Bush.
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