Marcus Luttrell Talks ‘Lone Survivor’

SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy Is Killed During A Reconnaissance Mission In Operation Red Wing

SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy Is Killed During A Reconnaissance Mission In Operation Red Wing

There’s no way a whirlwind of movie screenings, press conferences and interviews in Manhattan five-star hotels ever entered Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell’s mind during the five days he struggled to survive during Operation Red Wings in 2005. He wrote a memoir in tribute to his fallen comrades (Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10that became a bestseller and that book is now a movie (Lone Survivor) that stars Mark Wahlberg as Luttrell.

Luttrell seems like he’s treating this entire process as a continuation of Operation Redwing, that getting the story out about the men who died is a necessary step to completing the mission. He spent a lot of time on set during filming of the movie and now he’s traveling around the world to promote the film. We had a chance to speak with him one-on-one and he talked about his decision to write a book, the experience of working with director Peter Berg and how realistic they tried to be in portraying the mission.

How are you feeling about all of this?

Worn out. It’s a lot more tedious than I would have expected. I mean we were talking about it being kind of like doing a workup in the platoon, but I’m doing it by myself. And the end game is not a deployment. It’s a movie, so there’s a lot of moving from place to place, different plane, different city, different state, it’s okay.

Lone Survivor

Why did you decide to write the book?

Sure. But the head shed came down to me when I was in physical therapy while I was recovering from Operation Red Wing. They said that they were talking about putting this into a book and releasing it to the public, mainly because they wanted to squash the rumors that were going around about what had happened up on the mountain.

The head shed would get phone calls from the family members saying, “Why don’t you tell me about what happened to my son?” They would say, “We don’t know where you heard that, but that’s not the way that went down.”

I think that happened so many times that it just got to a point to where they decided that they needed to put this out to the public because the number of casualties that we had sustained was so severe that all of America knew about it. It wasn’t a situation where we could have just moved along with like we normally do.

They came to me while I was doing physical therapy and I was also in a platoon doing a workup. The military really helped me out with the lawyers and finding Patrick Robertson, the ghostwriter. He did a great job of putting it all together and everything. I just can’t say enough about that guy.

During the week I would be doing a workup, just platoon stuff, and then on the weekends, I would have to get on an airplane and fly out to Cape Cod and get there Saturday morning, work until Sunday night, and fly back and work for a week. We kept that schedule until we got it done. And the book actually came out when I was back in Iraq. I got injured again there and my injuries from Operation Red Wing had not gone away and gotten worse because I didn’t take time off. So then I was medically retired.

You know it was funny, while I was over in Iraq, I would get emails from my publisher and everything. They were like, hey, please be safe over there. Don’t die. You know? I’m like, “Do you really not want me to die or do you just need me around for the book?” When the book was released, I think I had been out of the military for two weeks, back from combat for two weeks.

Lone Survivor

That was basically how that started and it was kind of getting like pushed into the deep end of the pool into the literary world. I had no idea how all that worked. I had to go around doing all the press and the media. I was used to being just under the radar, doing what I did for a living. So the learning curve is pretty steep, but I stuck with it and, amazingly enough, the American public really took notice to the book. It kind of gained legs after a little while and took on a life of its own.

There’s so many different aspects of the book that resonate with people. They would say, “You know, the gunfight really touched me or the village that helped you really touched me, what was going on at your family ranch really touched me.” There’s so much stuff that happened in those five days and I was just fortunate enough to make it off the mountain and keep their memory alive by putting it on paper and releasing it so average Americans who aren’t really familiar with what goes down over there can get an idea of what we go through.

When did you meet Peter Berg?

I met him probably five years ago in Los Angeles. The Navy told me that word had come down that Hollywood was poking around to do a movie about the operation and they were going to do it with or without us. We obviously came to the conclusion it would probably be better if we were involved as opposed to not being there to make it authentic as possible.

So I was in Los Angeles doing some interviews with directors and producers. That was another world that I got dropped into after the literary world. I was just getting a handle on that world when I got pushed into another one. It was on a whim really that I met Pete. I was actually headed home and I missed my flight because I was in a meeting and the guy told me that Peter Berg was down here filming a movie with Will Smith and Charlize Theron and that he’d really like to meet me and suggested that I go down and meet all the actors. I was like, well, I don’t want to meet anybody. I don’t really care about all that. You know, I’m not that way. Everybody is human. We have a job to do and they’re great at what they do.

I went down to the set. When they said his name, at first I couldn’t put the face to the name. As soon as I saw him, I immediately was like, yeah, I know who you are. I’ve seen your movies. He got up and we walked off the set to have a conversation. He was more of a walk-the-walk instead of talk-the-talk kind of a guy, and I really appreciated that about him. He gave me a little insight into his background. His dad was a Marine and he appreciates the military and the service. He told me that he would be honored to do this and that he had just finished a movie called The Kingdom and he wanted me to see it.

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I went in and watched it. After I walked out of there, I couldn’t have told you the plot of the movie. I was just looking at how he did things and his attention to detail in every little aspect from the how IEDs were being built to the enemy and how they moved. I just got that feeling in my stomach that it was probably the right decision to go with this guy. I called him up and we went out and had dinner and a few beers and I said, “It’s in your hands now, man. I was like you’re the pro here, not me. I’m entrusting you with 19 lives. Don’t mess it up.” That’s not what I said, but he understood that. And he said, “I won’t. I’ll do right.”

He took his time with it and he made sure that he did all the research he could possibly do. He worked his butt off and he actually got into our community and went over to Iraq and got embedded with one of the SEAL teams over there, talked to all the families, read all the literature and just did his homework.

You’ve got to understand in reality I was out there for five days. The gun battle itself was over three hours and the entire movie is just two hours long. Pete was able to condense all of that into a two hour movie and decide what to put in there, what not to put in there. I stepped back and then just let him do his job. He was the professional and I respected his decision on everything that he did. Obviously he was very receptive to comments from me and the other SEALs that were helping out on the set. It wasn’t just him: the whole cast, the crew, everybody that was out there as a part of this would walk up to me every day and say, “Thank you, it’s just an honor to be out here.”

Lone Survivor

Can you talk about the realism in the movie?

It’s straight to the point and didn’t pull any punches. That was one of the things we talked about when we were on the set. How were you going to recreate the battle? The stuntmen are going to do this and they’re going to get hurt and they did. Broken ribs, punctured lungs, concussions, everything. For the movie to squeeze the three hours into 40 minutes, watching the fighting, the moving, the communications, the tactics and everything, they did a good job. I mean I’m pleased. I’m happy with it. I couldn’t ask for anything more and wouldn’t expect anything less.

Do you think the matter of fact realism of how the battle goes down is different than what people back here in the States understand about what goes during a mission?

Sure, I would imagine that’s the way it is with anything if you’re not familiar with it and you don’t live in that world. It would probably be the same thing with sports for someone who has never seen a football game. The movie is as real as it can be. War is the lowest common denominator. It’s him against me and may the best man win. When I’ve been watching the movie with audiences, you can hear the gasps and they’re taken aback by what they see, but it’s real. It happened and that’s what I did for a living. It’s business as usual.

55 Comments on "Marcus Luttrell Talks ‘Lone Survivor’"

  1. I think the heroism message will get out but using Walberg(anti-gun spokesperson)was a mistake. I refuse to support a movie with an anti 2nd amendment actor playing lead

  2. The Army has many heroes.

  3. The book should have been titled “Survivor’s Guilt”…Luttrell’s inaccuracies and exaggerations were so glaring in his book that it was pathetic…The book was not actually written by Luttrell, but by a ghost writer — a Brit military fiction writer, and it was quite obvious that the book was written as a prelude to a possible movie deal…“Operation Red Wings” was a Marine Corps op that these four guys got to horn in on as a result of a decision by SOCOM because the Marines had requested for MH-47 helo support for Operation Red Wings.…These four guys screwed the pooch with their poor judgement when they let the goat herders go free, and that decision ultimately cost the lives of the rescue operation — 16 men from SEAL Team 10 and 160th Spec Aviation as a result…Anyone interested in learning the real truth about this disaster, should read “Victory Point” by Ed Darack, who was embedded with 2nd Bn 3rd Marine Regt for their entire deployment in NE Afghanistan. ~ A retired Master Gunnery Sergeant of Marines

  4. Carpenter sir, your right Army has many heroes,and it has most of any armed forces recipients with MOH,but to all just another blowen of the charts movie,but all Armed Forces are the Real heroes just ‚like all movies but believe in US Troops!

  5. @ Lowly spec — I served in the Marines from 1964 until 1987, with 3 combat tours in RVN I Corps between 1965 and 1970…I spent my 4th tour in the Southeast Asian War Games as a combat support tour at RTAFB Nam Phong in northern Thailand ’72–73…My nephew, Lt. Mike McGreevy USN(SEAL) was one of the 8 SEAL’s who were killed in the MH-47 that was shot down in the rescue attempt in the mountains of Kunar province that fateful day.__Here is a quote from an article in the Marine Corps Gazette (Jan 2011) by Ed Darack that supports my above statement about Luttrell’s version of the story vs what really happened, and talks about Operation Red Wings:__“Shortly after REDWINGS, a number_of Marines of 2/3 carefully reviewed Luttrell’s_after-action report (AAR) and the_R&S team’s gear manifest to learn of any_recent changes in enemy tactics, techniques,_and procedures and, more importantly,_to ascertain what additional_threats they might face during operations_and patrols due to Shah acquiring_the SEAL team’s gear. In the AAR Luttrell_stated that the team was attacked by_20 to 35 ACM. (Analysis of 2 videos_made by Shah, as well as other intelligence,_indicated 8 to 10 total, a common_ACM team size for this area.) Twenty_was the number initially released by_CJTF–76 public affairs. In Lone Survivor,_however (which was released the_same week Luttrell retired from the_Navy), Robinson writes that the team_faced hundreds and that Ahmad Shah_was one of the top lieutenants to Osama_bin Laden. During the battle, according_to Lone Survivor, the SEALs killed_dozens of “Taliban.” Robinson does not_discuss Marine involvement in RED_WINGS in Lone Survivor, or the prior_operations after which REDWINGS was_based, or the purpose of the operation,_or the development of the operation, or_any of the command relationships during_REDWINGS. The (very gripping, yet_extraordinarily unrealistic) narrative of a_small special operations team inserted on_a lonely mountain to not just surveil, but_to take down the operations of one of_Osama bin Laden’s top men—who had_hundreds of fighters with him—continued_to propagate throughout the media.” __As I have stated earlier, if you want to read the truth about this fateful event, get hold of “Victory Point” and RTFB !! ~ A retired Master Gunnery Sergeant of Marines__

  6. @ “dwok” — Well, “dwok”, You need to get the ghost writers name correct first before you proceed to try and lace into me…His name is Patrick Robinson… not Robertson…And Robinson is a Brit military fiction writer, so he fit right in with Luttrell and his book versions of the events that happened on that mountain vs the real events or the After Action Report that he filed…Please read the article excerpt that I provided earlier today if you’d like to see some of the exaggerations I spoke of.

    I never advocated killing the goat herders…A lot of Sunday afternoon football games are won on Monday morning, but these guys should have been briefed and prepared for discovery long before ever being inserted on the Recon and Surveillance mission…The goat herders should have been detained (zip ties and duct tape) until the decision was made to either complete the R&S mission or abort and request extraction…Now here’s a little tidbit that you probably are not aware of…both platoons from S/T 1 & 10 were in Afghanistan on a training missio, and were not supposed to have been engaged in Operation Red Wings, but that was a decision made by SOCOM to put an inexperienced team of four SEAL’s on that mountain to run the R&S mission that would normally have been done by combat seasoned Marine Recon troops…Please get yourself better informed before you make anymore hasty/nasty replies and assumptions.

  7. The arguments here notwithstanding, this was a highly kinetic event. And with ALL kinetic events there are after-action ambiguities and contradictions. Nobody has a monopoly on the truth. There is a larger truth though. And that is that these SEALS did the best they could under horrifically difficult circumstances…

  8. @ IronV — Up to that point, this was the worst disaster and loss of life that Navy SEAL’s had experienced since their inception in 1962…There has been one more loss since, and that was the loss of 25 SEAL’s from DevGru (formerly known as S/T-6) and 6 Army SpecOp Aviation troops in late July of 2011 in Helmand Province…I think that the jury is still out on that one.

  9. Not trying to be the negative guy here but with 24 yrs of service and going thru the years when all these special operations unit that NO ONE knew about and only heard and sworn to keep secrecy of ALL events and operations, that was the Elite time. Now almost every post, operation, location, names, time/dates, is being compromised by the ones serving or higher. Lets bring back these OPs the way they were, clueless to everyone and only NEED TO KNOW BASIS.… No every story is accurate unit proving different. Go Bless my Brothers at Arms!!!!

  10. Brian Lawrence | December 29, 2013 at 7:26 pm |

    SO I guess the Navy didn’t perform an AAR regarding this mission (last I checked, the Marines are part of the Navy). BTW, This book was supported by the Dept of the Navy.
    None of use were there but Jim Mackin (I hope I have that correct) is convinced another book (by a Marine) tells the ‘true story’, was he on that mountain range?. Not trying to take sides here but lets just acknowledge the bravery exhibited by all branches of the military whether Irag / Afghanistan, or elswhere. Clearly 3 SEALS died, as well as other brave men, is it so hard to just honor their loss and move forward. I also lost colleagues/friends in this Op and I am glad the story is being told!

  11. Get a life and get off it. If you want to be an expert here, get back on active duty and show your abilities.
    Stop pissing I other folks pots. Secret is secret for a reason-honor it and shut up. Your not in their shoes so you did’t walk this mile. Stop acting like you have the answers, because you are clueless if you cannot accept it’ s not your place to second judge-especially dealing with a movie-get a life!

  12. There’s actual video footage of these events out there, if people want to see it. Not of the battles itself, but the aftermath from the afghani view point( Afghans filming)

  13. Sounds like Jim Mackin doesn’t like Navy SEALs.

  14. @ USN Ret ~ Not so…My nephew, Lt. Mike McGreevy USN(SEAL) was one of the 8 Navy SEAL’s killed in the MH-47 that was shot down in the rescue attempt…I have a problem with b/s ~ A retired Master Gunnery Sergeant of Marines

  15. Let’s clear a few things up right away…First, the Marine Corps is NOT part of the Navy, but a separate branch of service within the Dept of the Navy…The CMC reports only to the SecNav, and not to CNO…Secondly, there WAS an After Action Report (AAR) filed by Luttrell, and in it he gave his estimate of ACM fighters to be 20–35, NOT the hundreds of fighters that Robinson indicates in the “Lone Survivor” (“Analysis of 2 videos_made by Shah, as well as other intelligence, indicated 8 to 10 total, a common_ACM team size for this area”.)…Thirdly, this book was NOT supported by the Dept of the Navy, but only given clearance for publication…Fourthly, Ed Darack, the author of “Victory Point”, is NOT a Marine, but was a journalist and writer who was embedded with 2nd Bn — 3rd Marine Regt during their rotational deployment in Afghanistan…Darack used documented facts and intel from captured video to base his statements on the battle that ensued after the R&S team’s position had been given away by the goat herders they saw fit to release…Go back and re-read the excerpt from the Marine Corps Gazette article that I posted a few days ago…And for my last correction, there were 11 Navy SEAL’s KIA’d that day, not just the three inexperienced members of the R&S team on the ground, but also the 8 SEAL’s who lost their lives coming to rescue them, along with 8 members of the Army’s Night Stalkers from the 160th SpOp Avn Bn, which included their Bn CO, who piloted the doomed MH-47 that was shot down during their approach…Those were the REAL heroes of the day…I know that there are some of the “true believers” who don’t want to hear anything derogatory about Luttrell and the “Lone Survivor”, but I have a real problem with this movie being touted as “based on a true story”, when the book contains so many “literary enhancements and embellishments”, better known as b/s…Once again, the book and the movie should have been titled “Survivor’s Guilt”. ~ A retired Master Gunnery Sergeant of Marines

  16. Is this pathetic rant all you can bring to the discussion ?? ~ A retired Master Gunnery Sergeant of Marines

  17. Let it be. We all know Hollywood movies are not documentaries. I for one will read “Victory Point” by Ed Darack.

  18. As always it seems as if someones point of view is just that, their point of view. Anyone who has served in any theater of any war knows that you can talk to all the troops who are involved in an action and you will get many different perspectives. The services, regardless of branch, are made up of many MOS (jobs) and all need to be done to support the mission. Let us all remember that only one soldier fits into each pair of boots and that each soldier is important no matter the job he or she does. Your Brothers in Arms are your brothers so treat them all with respect and cut them the slack the civilian world does not.

  19. @Gunny Mackin, seems you sir have an issue with Luttrell’s survival, and the death of your nephew Lt. McGreevy. Sadly it seems that the only way you can vent your pain is to attack Luttrell. If you would like to sit down with Luttrell and talk this one out, i can help arrange that.

  20. They had to make a quick assessment of the goat herders they ran into. In dangerous situations that happens all the time. They made the decision not to kill them in that moment for their reasons. This is what happens in war. You cannot say you would have done this or that unless you were there.

  21. I just don’t understand, so much bitching about who’s better or who has the bigger dick. Each operation is different, you make decisions based on the info at hand, when you are on your own in a small team you take it how it comes. My two cents… I salute all of you, Army, Marines, Seals for your service and sacrifices. You too Navy and Air Force…

    Former Navy Corpsman,

    Retired Marine. Semper Fi.

  22. Mavericks-1966 | December 30, 2013 at 4:56 pm |

    Vietnam vet–so a long time ago. Monday morning quarterbacking is just that. As far as I can see he did NOT make himself out to be heroic, instead gave homage to those who paid with their lives! Sad part is– tactics employed 50 years ago {didn’t work well then}, are still being used today. The ONLY friend you have in a fight is the person next to you, certainly not the MEDIA, or the GOVERNMENT OFFICALS that put those in harms way in the first place. STONE THROWERS—BEWARE!

  23. Having served in the Marine Corps I have a deep love for all my brothers and sisters who wear the uniform of any of our great branches of service. Every time I hear on the news or in some report that another service member has died, it absolutely crushes me. Is there a chance of fabrication in the movie? Definitely. Is there a chance of fabrication in the book? More than likely. Is there a chance of fabrication in the AAR? Possibly. I have stared down the barrel of a gun. With that said, I know that in the heat of the moment, when all hell breaks loose, specific details may be lost due to the fact you are trying to stay alive and keep the person to your left and right alive as well. In a matter of a second or two the thoughts of returning fire, finding concealment and cover from enemy fire, proximity of the enemy, enemy numbers, not to mention your own mortality all come to mind. When the actual shit hits the fan, so much is happening in such little time (not to mention during a fire fight most people are not sitting there with their head up trying to get every detail) it is practically impossible to know everything that is happening. Referring to SEAL’s as “inexperienced” is inaccurate, dishonest, and flawed. As a fellow Marine I ask that you (Jim Mackin) never use that term to describe any SEAL, ever. Do I believe there were hundreds of the enemy there that day, maybe, but probably not likely. Last time I heard the firing of 10–15 weapons simultaneously, it could have easily been described as 100 weapons being fired. I also have a hard time believing that even exactly 100 people could not find this “lone survivor”, but do believe that 8–10 people could not find him. Be aware of misdirection when it comes to this book. I do not believe this book or movie should be titled “Survivors Guilt”. Although, I am sure Lutrell has questioned (more than once) why he was saved and did not parish like the others. We know the government will never release 100% of the truth of anything. Take this for what it is, a tribute to the fallen shooters of Operation Red Wings. R. I. P. brothers.

  24. The bravest men I never known.

  25. Ralph Chappell | December 31, 2013 at 9:38 am |

    Folks.….we have so many different levels of involvement here.…Luttrell the survivor, Hollywood, the Media, the DOD, USMC, USN, Army.….book writers, screen writers, After Action Reports, Intelligence Reports, Video from both the Enemy and our side.…and naturally there is some differences when all are compared.

    I remind you Combat Veterans.…of the confusion that takes place during intense combat at close quarters and how one’s view of things narrows and recollection of events can be swayed due to stress and all the other emotions that such combat brings.

    Rather than argue about how many ACM’s were there, the rightness of the Four Man Team being there.…being who they were.…and all that being argued.….can we not just stand back.…stand erect.…and honor the gallantry of everyone involved?

    Nothing is gained by fussing about any of this.

    We all make decisions that haunt us for life when we go into battle.

    Let’s watch the movie and accept it will serve to honor those who fought and those who died that Day.

    We should mourn their loss and honor their courage.

    Can we not just leave it at that?

  26. Jim is right… MOH’s are usually only given out when things go terribly wrong. Leadership by popular vote is also an indicator of inexperience and should be taught as a “how not to” example of military leadership. Anyone who has read the book should understand what I am saying here. Sad day for the Navy and the country. The sacrifice of their lives, and the men who tried to save them should be testiment enough to their deeds without Holleywood turning it into a $$ movie deal. Not a good way to honor their memory…

  27. Why use Walberg as lead? Anti-gun spokesperson, loves making movies involving guns, doesn’t want American people to own guns… Phony

  28. Well boys and girls, it seems that I have kicked over a bit of an anthill here, and now I find myself having to engage in a battle of wits with several unarmed opponents…Although most of the ignorant, snarky comments directed toward me really don’t deserve a reply, let me see what I can do with a few of them anyway…It might make it easier if I knew who I was actually addressing, but there are so many of you who insist on flying under assumed names or pseudonyms (or no name at all), because you prefer not to use your real name, and remain anonymous for some reason… Most of you all appear to be pseudo warriors, keyboard commandos, and wannabes with little or no military backgrounds at all, but you are offended that I have shed a shadow of doubt about the veracity of Luttrell’s book, “The Lone Survivor”, even though I’ve tried to provide you with good source with valid documentation that contradicts some of what Luttrell and Robinson have written.

    Firstly, there are a few who have commented about my prior service, and seem to doubt that I am a retired Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant (E-9) who has served multiple combat and combat support tours in RVN and Thailand…I’m the real deal, gang, and if you have your doubts, please go to the Buddy Finder section of this website, and it will take you to my profile…I can also be found on the TWS website…For those who require more, feel free to file a SF-180 with the proper channels…I served in the Marines from 1964 until I retired in early 1987…In fact, I will have been retired for 27 years one month from today…And for the yahoo (Hhhhhh) who told me to “get back on active duty and show my abilities”, I would like to mention that I don’t have that option…Agent Orange has taken its toll, and for the last ten plus years, I draw 100% of my retirement under CRSC, concurrent with the associated VA permanent disability pension…So, other than the age factor today, I have some other issues that will keep me on the Fleet Marine Corps Retired list.

    @ Former Marine — Hey, Genius, if you had bothered to read the entire thread, you would have seen that I have already mentioned the fact that I retired in 1987 in my reply to “Lowly spec”…So, in answer to your snarky remark about serving in the Gulf War as a “desk jockey”, the answer is NO; and I have never been a “desk jockey” during my entire career…The great 110 hour war began in 1991, and I was gainfully employed at that time, in my civilian job that I stayed with for 15 years prior to retiring again in 2002…You mentioned that my comments made me sound like a “desk jockey”, so you must be referring to my limited writing skills, and so I will have to take that as an back-handed compliment…Judging from your comments, I would have to guess that you probably had some issues with authority figures during your enlistment, and that attitude still prevails.

    @ Lucky XIII — Let me say that I don’t have a problem with Luttrell’s ability to survive that fateful day when 11 of his teammates were KIA…I wish that they had ALL survived…What I do have a problem with is the amount of embellishment that is written into his book when it didn’t need to be…I got over my nephew, Mike’s death a long time ago…Mike died the good death of a warrior — in the red heat of battle, and I know that this is the way he would have wanted it to be…He was an outstanding young man, and truly dedicated Navy SEAL…Mike was Class Honorman for BUD/S Class 230 in 2000, and was also the honor graduate from the Army Ranger Scol in the spring of 2001…Thank you for your offer, but I have no desire to sit down with Luttrell…What I would like to know is, why didn’t he include Mike’s widow, Laura in his visits with the families of the fallen warriors ?? Laura lived right there in Virginia Beach with several of the other widows, and she remained there until just about three years ago…I think that I may know the answer to this one, but I’d like to hear what he has to say anyway…If you come up with an answer for me, you can contact me through the “Message” function of this website.

    As for all the rest of the snarky individuals posting on this thread, I really didn’t find your comments worthy of a response, and I don’t have the time or desire to bother with you right now…And to the few who had the intelligence to read and comprehend what I have written, I thank you for your comments and condolences for my nephew, Mike.

    So, in closing, I hope that everyone has a very Happy New Year…Go and enjoy your action-packed movie, and pardon me if I refrain from attending…I think that I’d rather watch “Platoon” again !!
    ~ A retired Master Gunnery Sergeant of Marines

  29. Daniel O'Brian | January 1, 2014 at 9:00 am |

    I too have always wondered why they didn’t keep the goat herders tied up until they could get extracted. It seems to me a humanitarian but foolish order by Lt. Murphy. War is hell and not a movie, if you are not prepared to do what it takes to win then don’t engage in it. I am not Monday morning quarterbacking but if we don’t know what happened or try to gloss over it how can we learn from our mistakes and not keep repeating them getting even more good men killed. I or nobody I know doubts the bravery or honor of these men and we all are forever in their debt

  30. In RNV in 1965 — 1966 I as a Company Radio Operator made 5 man night patrols south of the Da Nang area. No matter what is happening (in the big picture of things) when there is only 5 of you out there it is a different world. We can look back and say “That was a bad decision” or “That didn’t make sense” (what in combat makes sense ?). As was said before this movie is NOT a “by the book” explanation of what happened in Operation Red wing, but simply a view by one man (who was there) view of what happened as he saw it and remembers it. God bless the Navy Seals and the Courage it takes to go out and perform the tasks that they do.

  31. Retired USMC infantry & recon, Desert Storm-Iraq-Kosovo; everyone honors sacrifice. Tacticians interested in lessons learned & authenticity of movie. This type of scenario: too small unit very remote location, is extremely risky requiring extreme decisions favoring safety of unit members. Unwritten top priority in SpecOps is survival of unit members — NO mission is worth 1 American life. Training-SOPs are extensive. Abort SOP calls for instant exfil which is planned for. In this scenario, SOP is ANY compromise is Abort. SOP is all personnel are enemy unless determined otherwise. But rules of war apply so killing unarmed personnel is not necessarily option A. But being unarmed does not mean they are not enemy & not a threat. Compromise SOP = Abort mission, dispatch of ‘visitor’, exfil. An experienced unit leader or member would not have allowed this violation of SOP. Vietnam & Somalia remind that helo insert on combat location maximizes risk. MOH for leader & movie of failure are appropriately questioned. Do it accurately (if enemy was 30 vice 100), not falsely glorify the unit. No disrespect to these patriots. Hopefully will save lives in future. God bless them.

  32. Two days since the last post so not sure if this thread is still active. One question I have for anyone who knows: is the entire ground action only verifiable by one man? Was there really zero radio contact after coming across the herders until the attempt was made by the LT to make contact on the ridge, and that only to relay the need for help?

  33. Marcus Luttrell is the type of person who gave all of what he has in spite of eminent danger looming around him and his three other friends staying alive to tale the tales of what went down that day where all his three other team mates died a glorious death. I love his book reading his book LONE SURVIVOR and can’t wait for the movie.. Respect to this Texan man! God Bless You Marcus and all the Seal team operating in different parts of the world

  34. Jesse Watari Bolante | January 5, 2014 at 1:21 pm |

    Just a quick question Mr. Mackin. What if Mr. Luttrell was your nephew? Would you have the same opinion about the book, the movie and the four “inexperienced” SEALs as you have described sir?

    I Love My M-14

  35. Glad you seem the all knowing on this subject Jim..

  36. Outwardbound | January 5, 2014 at 3:45 pm |

    To all the vets, past and present posting about this movie, it is my humble opinion as a currently serving leader of soldiers and a person that has risen through both the enlisted and officer ranks and seen combat too, like many of you, that your hateful remarks about Luttrell and the movie and what you perceive or have read to be facts are really painting yourselves and the services in a negative light. We are ALL brothers in arms and if you can’t recall the fog of war from your 24 yr military career and what I assume to be numerous battles, then you’ve lost sight of this sacred brotherhood in arms. Forget the pissing contest you’ve entered about 10 ACM fighters versus 35. Whether you agree or not, the only thing you’re really accomplishing right now is by discounting yourselves as heroes and standing professionals in the military; which I am sure you are and were. So just stop, observe subtly that you have conflicting info, and move on with your lives. If you don’t want to see the movie, don’t. If you do, don’t freakin compare it to a real world mission because it’s hollywood. You know damn well that they have to glamorize it so that people will see it. See it for what it is, not for the training video or AAR report you think it ought to be.

    Sine Pari

  37. It seems that someone has decided that my comments need to be monitored/censored at this time…I have tried to post a reply at least a half dozen times, but keep getting told that my comment (which is well within the guidelines of the website) must now first be “approved by admin”…Ludicrous !!

  38. No matter who puts on a pair of boots and grabs the bull by the horns and jumps into the fight, we are all human and can only process so much. It doesn’t even have to be in war. In any event whether it is in combat or a wreck on the street, when asking for details you get 20 stories out of everyone there. Just the way it goes. Everyone will have their own version of what happened. Ask any police officer that has responded to any crime and has asked questions of witnesses. The one thing that really kills me is the statement of the Seals being inexperienced. Seals are one of the most highly trained special ops teams in the world with it taking several years to get there. The even be a Seal most are already combat hardened troops before they even apply so to say that they were inexperienced was very immature and unbecoming a Retired Gunny. It is also a slap in the face to your nephew because those guys went through the same training as he did so was he inexperienced as well? Let us all just get along and understand that not everyone sees things the same. Does it mean they are right? Maybe. Maybe not but this Seal lost his team and I am sure that he is reminded of that every day that he wakes up so if he wants to tell a story to help remember then and if it helps him deal with what happened then I say he is doing the right thing. Let us not have any malice for any solider male or female. Marine, Army, Navy, Airforce and even the Coast Guard. All of these soldiers step up when others do not to make sure that we stay safe and some pay the ultimate price and no matter if it was their fault or not still need to be recognized because they went there and did that.

  39. If you read entire posts we have honored service so don’t make false accusations about hate or malice. But tacticians have right to criticize when justified. We have the duty to do so. I can disagree & get along — if you can’t that’s your issue. There is no intent to be negative about service but if you wish to be dishonest about it then you are wrong. Div says “most Seals have combat experience before they even apply” is absolutely false so his cred is disqualified. We also have duty to criticize false commendations including books, movies, incorrect medals, etc. Spare me the fog of war jive. This was a basic R&S scenario & basic SOPs were badly violated — if you don’t know that then your cred is zip. In this scenario, any compromise = abort & exfil immediately, there is no other acceptable option. Experienced operators don’t violate basic SOPs in a basic scenario. Therefore they made inexperienced mistakes. Be truthful, respectfully, uphold our standards or you disrespect them which is as bad as those improperly making money & getting glory from inappropriate books, movies & medals. Shoot straight or conserve ammo.

  40. Still interested if anyone knows, so I’m posting again:

    One question I have for anyone who knows: is the entire ground action only verifiable by one man? Was there really zero radio contact after coming across the herders until the attempt was made by the LT to make contact on the ridge, and that only to relay the need for help?

  41. Jesse doesn’t matter if warrior Is family or not, mistakes are mistakes & truth is truth. We aren’t Judged by family, Judged by Maker. Can’t polish poop & shouldn’t try. If can’t interpret Sit no matter who is involved then unethical. Matt, good questions, only other source may be radio comms. I don’t know details, disgusted by this plot. I obviously have my own PTS issues & don’t do books, movies, etc. Give Luttrell credit, if he is only source then it went down this unfavorable way, since many would have made the story more favorable, just sayn. No one is superman & no op is suicide mission — if can’t find OP with concealment, can’t do comms or emergency exfil then don’t do op — when will we learn? Ignore truth, call em heroes & give out commendations? Sad. My guess is improper MOH idea wrongly came from above, maybe WH, sounds like BO style. Disrespects actual heroes. You support them because you are patriots, good. They are warriors, I honor their service. Heroes sacrifice & save lives — they didn’t. Truth.

  42. It seems…incredible that 8–10 Taliban fighters can wipe out a 4 men SEA: Team, and shoot down a MH-47 same thing. In the book, it says up to 200 fighter that maybe what it feel like went under fire. But 8–10 Taliban can do all this.…I just don’t think they are that good.

  43. Yes, I will Monday morning quarterback on the goat herders situation. I have had a day to think about the situation (since watching the film) and develop my best solution. Fasten two of the goat herders securely to respective trees and duct tape their mouths, etc.. Take the third as a temporary prisoner. Shoot him if he attempts to escape. Move back up the mountain to re-establish communication and select an evac point. While being evac’d, release the third prisoner and give him a knife so he can rescue the other two herders from their bindings.

  44. Those 8–10 Taliban had likely been fighting guerrilla wars since the Soviets were there, and if not had grown up during that time and been learning to fight from those who had, so the idea that they could take on a force half their size and then put an RPG into a stationary helicopter does not surprise me at all. It’s also highly unlikely that once contact was made with the 4 Seals some type of reinforcing element was not called on to wait for the extraction force which the Taliban knew was coming. If they were doing it right the Taliban only made contact in order to get a shot at the reinforcing element as they landed anyway. Standard “guerilla” warfare.

    And if the Seals were actually ambushed-that’s not how the movie portrayed it-that would explain how everyone got separated and/or killed. Even 8–10 Taliban if they brought their RPG’s and M-60’s (or whatever their version of the M-60 is) would have been a problem even for 4 Seals no matter how contact was made. The fact that one did make it is a testament to their ability, imo.

    I’m not going to pull out my dick and try to prove it’s bigger than anyone else’s, so I’ll just fall back on what I learned from having a father who suffered from PTSD from his time in Vietnam with the 2/7 in late ’65 through May ’66 (look that up, they fought A LOT during this time-when my old man left in May ’66 he was the only surviving member of his platoon twice over… seriously) and listening to his stories about how “guerrilla” warfare is fought, the way this went down for the Seals does not surprise me. A LRRP patrol when/if discovered would be lucky to get out with fewer than 50% casualties, and those guys LIVED in the bush for months at a time, so if the 4 Seals really were inexperienced, they really did get compromised, and they really couldn’t make radio contact, I’d say it’s a damn miracle even one of them made it-which it was.

    Now that I’ve thrown my two cents in, I also could not finish the book, stopping at some point early on in it when I picked it up years ago. It just rang hollow to me as far as war stories go, and the movie left endless questions. Regardless, 4 tougher than nails men fought and three died with an rescue force helicopter shot down and everyone on board dead-that is the message I take away from all this. If mistakes were made then they were made, but I don’t know that, and if they weren’t then this is what happens in war.

    Luttrell most likely altered events in order to make his fellow Seals look like the heroes that they are and diminish any fodder for the haters to use against them, and my hope is that no one in his place would have done any differently. So long as he isn’t throwing anyone else under the bus this is the way it should be.

  45. Mr. Mackin, do you have an opinion about the controversy surrounding Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer’s Medal of Honor award?

  46. Chuck history shows NEVER underestimate enemy, Taliban are great fighters. I agree with MGySgt. Experienced operators don’t violate basic SOPs with ANY Major mistakes. Op likely impossible for 4 men, assignment Major mistake 1. Unit compromised, LRRP/OP Major mistake 2. In AO all are enemy, handle as you wish — unit survival is top priority. On compromise, not IMMED. abort Major mistake 3. Key to best handling emergency is staying ahead of emergency with SOPs. Not immed. exfil Major mistake 4. Bad comms, likely Major mistake. Extract helo on top of firefight Major mistake 5. Inadequate fire support for emerg. ext. likely Major mistake. Under-estimate ANY enemy Major mistake 6. ONE Major mistake in impossible op = deaths, can’t be rewarded. Patriots support. Warriors fight. Hero risks life to save lives AND saves others (also MOH standard; don’t meet standard-don’t get award). Honest patriots always favor truth. Honor all (appropriately, never excessively). If we don’t learn, more sons/Dads will die needlessly. I’ve made these points many times, no one disputed. I’m out. God bless all. Take care of your troops. S/f MGySgt! from Retired USMC combat vet

  47. ps. (sorry :) At a macro-level, please advocate for getting all US troops out of middle east ASAP, today is best, all troops, right now. There is no national security interest there. US is accomplishing zero except getting our sons & Dads killed. Cannot win especially using conventional warfare. They do not want us there. Disgraceful waste of US treasure including our diplomacy, taxpayers’ money & our families’ blood. Most US oil comes from US, large majority from North & South America. Middle-east is a political scam not deserving of one US drop of sweat, nevermind blood. Now I’m really out.

  48. Some needs to ask the question why they didn’t keep them tied up until they found a spot where their coms worked?

  49. Teri-Lynn Bonica | January 18, 2014 at 7:35 pm |

    Who the hell do you think you are Mackin? You call yourself a Marine?!! You do a disservice to the name Marine, and more importantly, you dishonor your nephew’s name. He was on a rescue mission and I’m certain that during a firefight, he wouldn’t have looked to his left or right and figured, effin’ Seals, hope you die you MFs. Your nephew rightfully belongs to those bands of brothers. However, your name has been permanently removed and you can no longer be a part of that club. Only a true Marine, a true Soldier, a True Airman, a true Frogman can be a true brother in arms. HOW DARE YOU add your name to this discussion? You are not welcome here. Go watch your football games and sit in your comfy armrest and let the real Marines, Soldiers, Seals, Rangers, Airmen get back to work protecting your ungrateful hide.

  50. Marcus Luttrell you are the bravest man on the face of this planet and what you have done has moved me in a bunch of ways. Don’t let these jackass’s say any different! They have no idea and no one has ever been through what you have been through or have had to make the decisions your squad had to make that day! I will never forget what you did and your bravery inspires me. Thank you Marcus Luttrell your a blessing to America and you are the definition of a soldier. God Bless

  51. I was in the Navy and whole heartledly agree with your assessment… I’ve actually met and drank with Mr. Lutrell and he was a shell of a human being. My guess (not professional diagnosis) was from guilt. And, yes, I have similar experiences and NO way would goatherds be let go to blow the entire op as well as endangering on ground personell. I just don’t understand what happened up there and never will. Probably more to it than any of us will ever know. The Gunny is on the money and I would bet my left nut that he’s worked with plenty of SEAL’s and other special op teams during his career.

  52. To all in arms,Respect…

  53. Inexperienced | July 28, 2014 at 10:56 pm |

    Not second guessing any of the combatants; I’m not qualified to do so. I just wonder why more people aren’t asking why they didn’t tie up the goat herders and take them to the extraction point and release them when they were extracted? The mission was already compromised; right?

  54. can I say the book is not about the Marines or the mission. It is about what happened to the 4 seals.
    Also how does Ed Darack know how many fighters were there. Oh I know because intel said there was only 8–10 fighters. Right, just ask a few soldiers that fought in Viet Nam how reliable intel is. Also Ed seems to be upset the most because Lutrell never mentions the Marines. Again the book was about the 4 man seal R&S team.

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