Real ‘Lone Survivor’ SEAL: Coming out alive ‘not a victory’

Reposted from: Eun Kyung Kim – TODAY

The upcoming movie “Lone Survivor” recounts the harrowing experience of Marcus Luttrell as he and his fellow Navy SEALS fought off the Taliban in a remote Afghan village. But the intense battle depicted onscreen doesn’t come close to what actually happened, the real-life lone survivor said Tuesday on TODAY.

“The movie is, what, two hours? The gunfight was over three hours long,” Lutrell told NBC’s Kate Snow.

Based on a Luttrell’s memoir of the same name, “Lone Survivor” follows a team of Navy SEALS through a failed 2005 mission known as Operation Red Wings that cost the lives of 19 members of the U.S. military.

Luttrell, who is played in the movie by Mark Walhberg, was part of a four-man team assigned to a reconnaissance mission that centered on a senior Taliban leader. The crew’s cover was blown after a goat herder stumbled upon their hiding place. The three others on Luttrell’s team — Lt. Mike Murphy, Petty Officer Danny Dietz and Petty Officer Matthew Axelson — were killed in the battle that followed.

Lutrell said he had no choice but to keep fighting, even as he watched his comrades dying beside him.

“You just keep going. You get up, fight harder. Every time they take one of your friends down, teammates down, it kind of jacks you up a little bit harder,” he said.

“Lone Survivor” also recounts Luttrell’s rescue by the Afghan villager who saved his life, Mohammad Gulab.

“He started screaming, ‘American,’ and I spun around,” Luttrell recounted. “I was on my knees, and I had my gun at my hip — safety off, tension down on my trigger. He was looking rights down at me. I could see the whites of his eyes.”

Gulab said he had been trying to warn Luttrell.

“I was trying to tell him I wasn’t Taliban. I know that many enemy was looking for him in the mountains,” he said through a translator. “And I was trying to warn him that you must be careful.”

Gulab and others carried Luttrell back to their village, nursing him and hiding him from the Taliban. Gulab, who sent his own father to an American military base to tell them about Luttrell, has had two members of his family killed and two others injured because of his rescue efforts. But he has no regrets.

“I will always have my honor, and I’ll hold it until my death,” he said.

Today, Luttrell is retired from the military and lives with his wife and their two children on a Texas ranch. Gulab has come to the United States twice since their first mission and and Luttrell has been trying to help him get a green card so he can visit more frequently.

But Luttrell still aches for his fallen comrades.

“We didn’t win, we lost. You can’t switch that any way in a book, in a movie, or anything like that,” he said. “You can’t turn that around and make it look like we won. We didn’t win, we lost. So me coming out alive, that’s not a victory. Some people see it like that, it’s not. It’s not a victory at all.”

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15 thoughts on “Real ‘Lone Survivor’ SEAL: Coming out alive ‘not a victory’

  1. Sir, With all due respect while I can empathize NOT understand but simply empathize with you in your statement about not a victory. I wish to say this. You would have served not one purpose to die on that mountain 100 percent. You have a new purpose that is in itself a victory. The victory for whatever reason or how small it is, now is to teach others. Tell them your story. The true story of American men who gave all and put all before themselves. God Bless you and your family.

    • Hi Marcus,
      Although I knew it would be hard to watch “Lone Survivor” I held my American Flag in my hands and I never turned my head or closed my eyes during this bloody, painful depiction of your battle against the Taliban in Operation Redwing. I watched every minute with eyes front. The reason I did this is because in my own small way, I was honoring you and all those who fight, who bleed, and who die — for me. It just humbles me, that you, that the US Navy Seals, the US Soldiers, US Marines and US Airmen, fight so that our country can remain free. I don’t really know how to express my thanks and my deep love for you and all of those who fought and died for this country. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.
      Thank you for sharing your story with the world and for honoring your band of brothers. I hope one day I can actually meet you and shake your hand.

      Teri-Lynn Bonica
      Marietta, GA

  2. Huge Wahlberg fan but did not care for his performance, nor the last 1/3rd of this movie. Too much Wahlberg and too much Hollywood. That said, I don’t know anything. Thanks for your service and sacrifice. I will never forget and do my best to make sure my children will not forget either.

  3. Just wanted to thank you for brave service to our country and sharing your amazing story of courage and sacrifice in “Lone Survivor”. Thank you so much for keeping our country free and safe.

  4. Just returned from seeing the movie not long ago. I would say there were many victories in what was portrayed on screen. The decision not to murder the goat herders when many calculating men would have done just that. The decision to keep on fighting and not lay down and die was a victory. The friendship that was built with Gulab was a victory. I’ve never been in a position like this but after seeing this movie there are a few things I’ll strive to do. I’m going to hug my wife and kids a little tighter, I’m going to be grateful for the freedoms we take for granted which were bought at so high a price, I’m going to stand up for freedom a little taller when the times call for it, and I’m going to live life as honorably as I can. Because after all, in addition to their brothers, these heros died for all of us. God bless the families that have paid the ultimate sacrifice…and God damn the Taliban! Thanks for telling this story Mr. Luttrell.

  5. Thank you for sharing the truth about your missions and your service. While the fight was lost that day, the honor was maintained. I truly feel it wasn’t the Lord’s choice for you to come home that day. He is using you to give us a chance to know what we ask of our combat forces; to allow the decision makers to make better decisions going forward. Being a Navy veteran myself, I know the SEALs don’t talk about their exploits, and that is as it should be. I wasn’t blessed with what it takes to be a SEAL, but I’m glad there are those such as you and your comrades that do have what it takes, and that you’ve all taken up the challenge. Good luck and prayers for you new mission to bring the NEVER GIVE UP ethos, to those of us now in the civilian population – WE CERTAINLY NEED IT THESE DAYS.

  6. Mr. Luttrell,

    Thank you for publishing your book and being a hand in making this movie. I have not read or seen either yet and sad to say as a single mom i will most likely be going to see the movie before i read the book. Not much time for reading. But as a military brat there is no group of people that i respect, admire and can somewhat associate and empathize with more than military personnel. Most of my family is military and i would have been too if i wasn’t so stubborn and jackassed in my early years. I wanted to fly helicopters in combat but women weren’t allowed when i wanted to join so i did not join. I think that the American people seeing the things that you men and women go through is extremely important to knowing and appreciating the American way of life and the freedoms that so many take for granted every day. Its sad, excruciating, hopeful, beautiful, uplifting and so many other emotions at the same time to see these kinds of films and i am truly looking forward to seeing yours. I don’t know if i can truly explain in words what the stories of you men and women mean to me as a civilian, but as a military brat they hold a lot of hidden treasure at the same time. Thank you for showing Americans what they have to be grateful for and opening up about the hard times you and your brothers have to face every day. It keeps us remembering what our country was built on and to fight for what we believe is right and to love every moment with the people we care so much about. You are an inspiration Mr. Luttrell and i can only hope there are so many more men and women like you than our current status as a country would lead me to believe. I would count myself extremely blessed if i got to meet you and your family one day. Thank you again for being a part of the America that i love and hold so very dear!

    Sincerely,

    Very appreciative military brat and family, Andrea Dunn

  7. Greetings from Spring Texas Mr.Luttrell sir. You are a true hero and an inspiration to us all in so many ways. As a 4th generation, born and raised, proud Texas boy, I cant tell you the honor I feel watching Mr. Wahlberg portray you on the big screen. Its guys like you that helped this state win our independence long ago and its guys like you that keep this whole country safe from harm today. Many blessings to you and your family sir. Long live Dasy

  8. Marcus,

    Thank you for sharing the story of of Operation Red Wings. The book is excellent and I just watched the movie (glad you didn’t have to kill the producers). I am absolutely humbled to see what you and your brothers did for each other and our country. God Bless…I will “Never Forget and Never Quit” and teach my daughter and son to do the same.

    Larry

  9. I have to agree with Matt Traster. No one other than those who have lost their buddies in combat can ever understand the guilt of survival, but I can tell you this like Matt said you were meant to survive and tell your story so that your buddies can live on. I’m so sorry for the pain you have had to endure and for the loss of your friends. Know this, you are allowing them to live on and bring the gift of who they were to the world. I know you friends are so proud of you and smiling down on you for the burden you have had to carry. You are a true hero and a inspiration to millions of people. God Bless you Sir.

  10. I went to see the movie by myself. I knew my stomach would be in knots during the fight. I was married to a Navy Corpman and he was attached to Marine units. Sometimes military movies are just so personal to me. You all fought til you couldnt any more. Never gave up., never stopped fighting. I do wonder what were your injuries. You had to have some internal injuries. Amazing how strong ones body can be. The decisons and choices you have to make are both somethoing that I cant even imagine. I just respect military service members even more. Keep on fighting a good fight.

  11. Sir while its not a win it is a win in some ways.You get to keep there names alive and honor them the way they should.Semper Fi frogman

  12. Marcus
    coming out alive, not a victory? there is a perspective that I think you are not considering. Something Gulab said about having no regrets, that “he has his honor” I am taking the perspective of the bigger picture, just like Gulab. We all have our time to go, to leave this life. That mountain, that firefight, tested you and your team mates. And it tested Gulab, his family and his village. You will always have your honor. You guys were tested to your core. In terms of the mission, ok, you didn’t get Sharmark, but in terms of life, honor and character, you all shine like jewels. You and your buddies were presented with choices and a situation that day that plumbed the depths of your being. You all came out of it with your honor and integrity intact. Your buddies, to their last breath, proved their character, their honor, their integrity and their patriotism. We all face situations in life that define who and what we are. There are little tests and really big tests. As a Christian you know that we will all stand before God and give an account of ourselves. You, your buddies and Gulab all showed what was/is inside of you. That my friend is beautiful, a flying success. To your core, all of you, are honourable. Be proud of your buddies, not just for their being some of the toughest men on earth, but because they also proved themselves to be success in terms of character and honor and integrity. You all passed the ultimate test. You ALL came through it successfully. No one can take that away from them or you. We only die in the sense that we leave this body. But we all have a soul that lives on.C S LLewis said “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul; you have a body. ” To sum this up, in terms of life and integrity and character, you guys are all a success. The legacy your buddies and you have earned will be with you and them for eternity. Not many people can be proud of the things that they have done or of what they have become, but you guys can.
    That is a successfully mission from a different perspective. Thank you for your service Marcus, and for the examples you guys have set for all of us.

  13. I thank God that you survived that terrible time, to come out and tell what happened that horrible day, and to help us to honor your teammates. Thank you!

  14. God Blessed so many heroes and people around this world and will benefit from this story Marcus.
    Thank you Sir!
    Your story is a story of real hope and change. I was touched prior to this movie and absolutely blown off my recliner watching it. I now have a much deeper hearty felt compassion for our heroes.
    Thank you and thank you Galub.
    Please bring him and his family home to USA!

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