Marcus Luttrell – Lone Survivor – US Navy SEALS – There are just no words that can express what I want to say this morning, and I have been thinking about what it is that I want to say for over a week now.
My Grandfather is a WWII Navy pilot who flew over Japan, part of the Greatest Generation; it was he who showed me what it means to love my country. I don’t have it in me to join the military, although I did at one point want to be a military pilot, like my Grandfather.
I still sometimes wish I’d had the confidence to give it a shot, but then I run across stories, like Lone Survivor, that make me know I am not good enough to have joined the US military.
That is not expressing negativity for myself.
That is expressing awe for those in the US military.
And because of this awe, I feel we owe it to these brave men and women to keep their stories alive and to do our best to understand to the best of our limited ability what they go through.
It was that need (and, I must selfishly admit, the need to find good, strong role models for my five boys) that led me to first read Lone Survivor written by US Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell. Luttrell was one of four US Navy SEALs sent on Operation Red Wing in Afghanistan in 2005. As the title says, the other three, Lt. Mike Murphy, Petty Officer Danny Dietz, and Petty Officer Matthew Axelson, did not survive the mission. In addition, 16 other members of the US military were killed in the rescue effort.
Marcus continues to suffer.
I might as well state it that simply, that harshly.
I could go into graphic detail about what I read in the book and saw on the screen. I could describe in minute detail second by second what happened on screen. I could write volumes in the attempt to explain what I saw.
But I could not do it justice.
There are just no words.
There are just no words.
I hadn’t wanted to see the movie, thinking it was just another Hollywood glorification, another example of Hollywood profiting off the suffering of our military, but after listening to Marcus Luttrell on Glenn Beck’s radio show, I knew I had to see Lone Survivor. I knew I owed him and the others that much.
And it was that debt, that unspeakable gratitude that forced me to sit through Lone Survivor. Even after reading the book, I was unprepared for the reality of the movie and obviously completely unprepared for what the reality of battle must be.
I sat in a temperature controlled theatre, my seat cushy and reclinable, popcorn held by my 15 year old son next to me; his older brother on the other side of him.
Some movies are made to recline through and enjoy. I knew Lone Survivor would not have me reclining and enjoying. I expected to sit on the edge of my seat and… and I don’t know what. I couldn’t hope. I knew they wouldn’t make it out alive. At one point, I actually (shamefully!) wished these Navy SEALS, these incredible heroes, hadn’t been so well trained, so in shape physically and mentally. I guessed if they hadn’t been, death would have come quickly to them. I sat shamefully wishing death would come quickly. My limited mind wouldn’t allow me to consider their fate if they had been captured.
But that was me talking. The me who would have given up. To the end of the battle, the Navy SEALS were strong and brave and hopeful. Almost before the first shot was fired, I was already weak and choosing death over hope.
And that’s only part of what makes these incredible men heroes and why we owe it to them to adopt their motto of “Never Quit” in the small trials we face in our relatively cushy lifestyles.
So there I sat.
I had expected to sit on the edge of my seat.
But I didn’t. I couldn’t.
Instead, I found I had crawled into a little ball, squeezing myself into the tightest upright fetal position possible, my fists clenched against my cheeks, often covering my mouth, stifling my urge to cry out. Wanting to cover my eyes, I forced stinging tears back inside my head.
These guys weren’t crying. I owed it to them not to cry too – but I am still fighting back tears and that unsettled feeling in my stomach as I think of my puny efforts to be brave for them.
Lone Survivor is the only movie that I have ever seen that I had to literally fight down my vomit and my (almost) overwhelming desire run screaming from the theater,
“Stop the film. Stop the film. This isn’t right. This can’t happen. Stop them. Why isn’t somebody stopping them! This doesn’t happen in real life. It just can’t!”
But it can, and it did, and it still does.
I won’t even attempt to explain Lone Survivor, either the book or the movie. I know the movie is not for everyone, but if you can, I’d urge you to see it, not for yourself, but for those men and for their families and for all we owe them.
And whether you choose to see it or not, I beg you to pray every day for all US military men and women and to thank them at every opportunity.
After watching Lone Survivor, I went home and hugged Noah, my little guy who spends hours lining up his Army men, laying out strategic battles all over the living room, using couches, magazines, and whatever else he’s got as cover for the troops in his command. Noah who talks so often about joining the military or law enforcement. Noah who I’ve encouraged to go in as an officer, to attend someplace like my beloved West Point, if he goes in.
I will be proud and supportive of him if that is what he decides, but a small part of me began to see just the very tip of the obstacles my son may someday face. I held him tightly but gently, wanting him to stay safe in my arms, forever my little boy, without his needing to understand why.
It was the first time I really thought of trying to talk him out of signing up.
I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. I won’t ever try to talk him out of joining the US military if that’s what he wants, but I now think about it with a much heavier heart and an even greater gratitude for the blessings these men and women give to us.
Thank you is all I can think of to say, and thank you will never be enough.
This piece is not at all what I’d hoped, but I will just say again…
There are no words.
Honoring Those Involved in Operation Red Wing:
To read more about or support Marcus Luttrell please click here.
To read more about Lt. Michael Murphy, please click here.
To read more about Petty Officer Danny Dietz, please click here and here.
To read more about Petty Officer Matthew Axelson, please click here and here.
To read more about Machinist Mate 2nd Class Shane Patton, please click here.
To read more about Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Daniel R. Healy , please click here.
To read more about Quartermaster 2nd Class James Suh , please click here.
To read more about Chief Fire Controlman (SEAL) Jacques J. Fontan, please click here.
To read more about Lt. Cmdr. Erik S. Kristensen, please click here.
To read more about Electronics Technician 1st Class Jeffery A. Lucas, please click here.
To read more about Michael M. McGreevy, please click here.
To read more about Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jeffrey S. Taylor, please click here.
Army Night Stalkers:
To read more about Staff Sgt. Shamus O. Goare, please click here.
To read more about Chief Warrant Officer Corey J. Goodnature, please click here.
To read more about Sgt. Kip A. Jacoby, please click here.
To read more about Sgt. 1st Class Marcus V. Muralles, please click here.
To read more about Maj. Stephen C. Reich, please click here.
To read more about Sgt. 1st Class Michael L. Russell, please click here.
To read more about Chief Warrant Officer Chris J. Scherkenbach, please click here.
To read more about Master Sgt. James W. Ponder, please click here.
For More Information:
To read more about Operation Red Wing, please click here.
To learn more about the Navy SEALS, please click here.
To view a video about Marcus Luttrell and his Afghan rescuer, Mohammed Gulab, please click here.
Thank you to all our US Military.
May God Bless you and your families…