The Sole Survivor

Two additional vids made in tribute to 'Spartan 01' (not mine):

Matt Axelson
[ame=""]YouTube - Navy SEAL Matt Axelson and his wife Cindy[/ame]

Danny Dietz
Surviving SEAL tells story of deadly mission

In the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, 4 SEALs made a tough choice. Only one lived to tell

By Sean D. Naylor - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Jun 21, 2007 11:56:23 EDT

With the midday sun beating down on them near the top of a mountain in eastern Afghanistan, four Navy SEALs faced an agonizing decision.

Their mission, to reconnoiter a village where a Taliban leader was thought to be holed up, had just been compromised by three goatherds who had almost tripped over the commandos. Now the SEALs were holding the goatherds — one a young teenager — at gunpoint and deciding whether to kill them or let them go.

The decision they would reach would cost three of the SEALs their lives and leave the fourth feeling “cursed” for having survived.

Marcus Luttrell, then a petty officer second class, was the lone survivor. This month, he left the Navy as a special warfare operator first class and, with co-author Patrick Robinson, published “Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10.”

The book is a rare look inside a SEAL operation, and covers in detail the fateful decision and the ferocious battle that followed. Instantly among the top 10 sellers on, its description of the decision has already stirred controversy.

Operation Redwing was aimed at capturing or killing Ahmad Shah, a Taliban leader in Kunar province whose attacks had been taking a heavy toll on Marines operating in eastern Afghanistan. The four SEALs — Lt. Michael Murphy, Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Matthew Axelson, Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Danny Dietz and Luttrell — were the leading edge of the operation, charged with locating Shah and his forces.

“We were to go in, lay up and monitor any movement,” Luttrell said in a June 14 interview.

After infiltrating by helicopter June 27, 2005, the SEALs’ orders were to get eyes on the village, stay in position for 24 to 72 hours and report any sight of Ahmad Shah or his forces. If they spotted him in the village, “then the main body was going to come in and take it down — that’s how we usually did business.”

But the four SEALs shared a deep unease about the mission.

The pre-mission intelligence was an area of particular concern to Luttrell.

“The intel reports were there were anywhere from 80 to 200 Taliban fighters,” he said. “That’s pretty obtuse. What have I got? Do I have 80 or do I have 200? I need to know. And then the terrain intel kept changing on us. We didn’t know whether we were going into rock beds or trees, or both.” Luttrell said he and his teammates voiced these concerns during the planning phase of the operation. “But it’s our job to do the mission, no matter what.”

After a night spent on a difficult movement up the mountainside to their hide site, the SEALs’ fears were realized June 28. Within two hours of letting the goatherds go, the special operators found themselves in a fight for their lives, all but surrounded and massively outnumbered by an estimated 140 Taliban fighters.

During this battle, which Luttrell describes in great detail in his book, the SEALs fought heroically against overwhelming odds as they tried to retreat down the mountainside to the flat ground, where they figured they could find cover in the village and hold out until help arrived.

They killed dozens of Taliban, but one by one, the SEALs fell, in each case — except for Luttrell — fighting on despite being shot several times. In both the book and the interview, Luttrell is determined to emphasize his comrades’ heroism:

**Dietz, the communications expert, stayed on the high ground with the radio, trying vainly to get out a call for help. “He stayed up there, as we fell back, trying to make comms, and he got shot two or three times,” Luttrell said. “He got the mike blown out of his hand.” Shot five times, Dietz was still firing when a sixth bullet caught him in the head. He died instantly in Luttrell’s arms. Dietz received the Navy Cross posthumously for his actions.
**Murphy was shot in the stomach early in the fight, but kept leading his men, before being shot again in the chest. Then he exposed himself to enemy fire in order to make a last-ditch satellite phone call back to the headquarters in Bagram, pleading for a quick reaction force to be sent. Luttrell describes Murphy being shot in the back as he made the call, slumping forward and then continuing the conversation — “Roger that, sir. Thank you.” — before returning to his position and firing at the Taliban. He is being considered for the Medal of Honor for his actions.
**Axelson, wounded first in the chest and then, mortally, in the head, fought on alone after becoming separated from Luttrell, expending two more magazines before succumbing to his wounds. He received the Navy Cross posthumously.

The battle went from bad to worse when the Taliban shot down the MH-47 Chinook helicopter carrying the quick reaction force, killing all 16 personnel on board — eight SEALs and eight aviators from the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

But Luttrell survived — knocked unconscious by a rocket-propelled grenade after Dietz and Murphy were killed and Axelson mortally wounded, he managed to stay hidden until he was given shelter by Pashtun tribesmen who risked their lives to save him from the Taliban. Several days later, a combined team of Army Rangers and Special Forces rescued him, and an Air Force helicopter flew him to safety.

Luttrell’s physical wounds, which included a broken wrist, a broken nose and three cracked vertebrae, healed faster than his mental wounds. In the book, he describes suffering nightmares every night in which he is haunted by Murphy’s dying screams.
‘Call it’

For the lone surviving SEAL of Operation Redwing, it all comes back to the decision he and his comrades made on the mountainside. According to his book’s account, the SEALs thought they had only two choices: kill the three goatherds, or let them go.

None of the four SEALs had much experience in this situation. They were three months into the deployment and were already veterans of missions that Luttrell said numbered in the double figures. “We had never been compromised before,” Luttrell said. “That was a reputation that we were proud of, that we had never been walked on. But we got walked on this time.”

For Murphy, Luttrell and Axelson, the Afghanistan deployment was their first taste of combat, Luttrell said, adding that he was not sure whether Dietz had done a previous tour to Afghanistan or Iraq. (Naval Special Warfare Command spokesman Lt. Steve Ruh said whether Dietz or any of the other SEALs had prior combat experience was “highly classified.”)

Although the possibility of being compromised had been discussed in preparations for the mission, there was no set plan for how to handle such an eventuality, Luttrell said. “It had to be an on-scene call, due to the severity of the compromise, the location of the compromise, how many people had walked on us,” he said.

As Luttrell relates in “Lone Survivor,” Murphy first tried to raise the SEAL tactical operations center at Bagram on the radio for guidance. He couldn’t connect. Then Murphy made an “on-scene call”: He put the decision to a vote. He would not impose his decision on the others.

Axelson voted to kill them, Luttrell said. “We’re on active duty behind enemy lines, sent here by our senior commanders,” the book quotes him as saying. “We have a right to do everything we can to save our own lives. The military decision is obvious. To turn them loose would be wrong.”

Murphy voted to let the Afghans go. Dietz abstained. “I don’t really give a s--- what we do,” Dietz said, according to Luttrell. “You want me to kill ’em, I’ll kill ’em. Just give me the word. I only work here.”

Then, Luttrell said, Murphy then warned his men that if they killed the goatherds, they would have to report the deaths, and the Taliban would publicize them, as well.

“[T]he U.S. liberal media will attack us without mercy,” Luttrell quotes Murphy as saying. “We will almost certainly be charged with murder.”

And then, according to the book, Lt. Murphy turned to Luttrell, the petty officer second class. “Marcus, I’ll go with you,” Murphy said. “Call it.”

A commissioned officer putting a life-or-death decision to a vote among his subordinates runs counter to most people’s notion of command responsibility. But Luttrell doesn’t see it that way. To him, this was a reflection of SEAL culture.

“Most people don’t understand how the SEAL teams are made up,” he said. “It’s not straight up, ‘You will do this my way.’ I guess it could be if you had some guy like that. But the teams are designed differently. That’s why the officers go through the same training as we do and we’re together the whole time.”

The SEAL mind-set, he said, was, “Two heads are better than one, three are better than two.

“So if you’re stuck in a situation like that, would you want to make the decision that killed all of us? That’s why we talked about it ... A good officer listens to his men.”

Ruh, the Naval Special Warfare Command spokesman, said it was true that the SEAL community “is a brotherhood” whose officers and enlisted personnel train together so closely that they often call each other by their first names, “but whether they’re officer or enlisted, the senior guy ultimately has the ultimate authority.”

Asked whether putting an important decision to a vote is normal or accepted practice in the SEAL community, Ruh replied:

“This is the first time I’ve ever heard of anything put to a vote like that. In my 14 years of Navy experience, I’ve never seen or heard of anything like that.”
‘I would have killed them’

By putting the issue to a vote, Murphy was not abdicating his command responsibility, Luttrell said. “Not at all. He had total control. He was in total command out there the whole time. He was a consummate professional.”

But Murphy’s father, Daniel Murphy, disputes Luttrell’s account. He maintains that his son would never have put such a decision to a vote. According to a report in Newsday, the Long Island, N.Y., newspaper and Murphy’s local paper, Murphy said Luttrell’s account dishonors the memory of his son and contradicts the version that Luttrell told the elder Murphy personally.
“He said that Michael was adamant that the civilians were going to be released, that he wasn’t going to kill innocent people,” the elder Murphy is quoted as saying in Newsday. “Michael wouldn’t put that up for committee. People who knew Michael know that he was decisive and that he makes decisions.”

Luttrell seemed pained by the disagreement.

“I can’t pretend to understand what Mr. Murphy’s going through with the loss of his son,” Luttrell said in an interview. “I’m sorry for his [son’s] death. Mikey was my best friend and I’m sorry that he feels that I’ve dishonored him in some way. If he thinks that I did, then I apologize for whatever I said. That’s not my intention. My intention is to honor his son in every way I can and I’m not going to stop doing that.”

But, by Luttrell’s own account, Murphy put the petty officer in the position of casting the deciding vote. Swayed by Murphy’s warning that killing the Afghans would lead to the SEALs being charged with murder, Luttrell voted to free the Afghans.

He now believes that decision sealed the fates of his three teammates.
“It was the stupidest, most southern-fried, lamebrained decision I ever made in my life,” he writes in the book. “I must have been out of my mind. I had actually cast a vote which I knew could sign our death warrant. I’d turned into a f---ing liberal, a half-assed, no-logic nitwit, all heart, no brain, and the judgment of a jackrabbit.”

But he remains conflicted. In the interview, Luttrell said, “If you put me back in the same situation, I’d probably do the same thing again, if I didn’t know the outcome. Knowing what I know now, knowing what we went through and what I go through every day, hell yeah: I would have killed them.”

Even at the time he made the decision, Luttrell said, he would have voted to kill the three goatherds if he was assured that he and his teammates would not get into trouble.
Second guesses

These are the wrong answers, said Air Force Lt. Col. David Bolgiano, the judge advocate general for Central Command’s Special Operations Command from 2002 to 2004 and the author of “Combat Self-Defense:

Saving America’s Warriors from Risk-averse Commanders and their Lawyers.”
“The killing of non-combatants under the circumstances described is never legally justified unless as an act of self-defense,” Bolgiano said. “Use of deadly force in self-defense is reasonable when responding to demonstrated hostile intent, or a hostile act, which presents an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury. While imminent does not mean immediate, it is quite a stretch to say that since the shepherds may tip off local Taliban as to the presence of the SOF [special operations forces], then it would be OK to kill them in self-defense.

“On the other hand, if the SOF had a reasonable belief that, in fact, these shepherds were acting as Taliban lookouts or sentries, then deadly force may be authorized. Once, however, any threat (combatant or non-combatant) becomes a prisoner, then one can’t simply execute them for convenience.”

Ruh, the Naval Special Warfare Command spokesman, said SEALs are not trained to kill unarmed civilians. “There is no instruction that would justify any of that,” he said.

Luttrell dismissed as impractical and dangerous another option, raised by an Army Special Forces officer: tying the goatherds up and leaving them behind.

But to Luttrell, this is all Monday-morning quarterbacking.

“There’s no right answer,” he said. “It’s what happened right then and there. You can’t plan this out. You can plan the best way you can, and then you deal with what you’ve got right there in the field. People can ... armchair quarterback us all day long, but the bottom line is, they weren’t out there.”

After recovering from his wounds, Luttrell was promoted to hospital corpsman first class, received the Navy Cross — pinned on by President Bush in the Oval Office — and deployed to Iraq in the fall of 2006. Getting back into the fight with his colleagues was critical to coping with the lingering mental trauma.

“I redeployed back overseas to get my head straight, to get back on the horse, and I’m doing well,” he said.

Now he’s out, having written the book, he said, to honor the men who fell fighting with him.

“The story’s not about me,” he said. “I’m the cursed one. I’m the one that made it out.”
I finished The Lone touched and moved me profoundly. Highly suggest folks pick it up and read it.

Interview with Marcus Luttrell on Breitbart TV. Filmed at the US Capitol. Lengthy (13:11 mins). His take on the ROEs, trust and the art of war are very well thought out.

As an aside, he looks like he's much more accustomed to interviewing now. Nice to see him even smile a few times.
Glen cut him off at an Hour again, Fucker. What a story, Ive got to get the Book now.

Lax Mom it is still a good listen, ML has some really funny lines "Man PJ's" is just one of
Glen cut him off at an Hour again, Fucker. What a story, Ive got to get the Book now.

Lax Mom it is still a good listen, ML has some really funny lines "Man PJ's" is just one of

Thanks Eat, I found transcipts :)

The 2 transcripts are at

I believe it was this story you liked:


And then they put me -- their local -- what they wear, I call it man jammies, I don't know exactly what their proper term was.

GLENN: Who would have guessed you were a Texan, man. All right. So now you're -- now you're in man jammies.

LUTTRELL: Yeah. They put these man jammies on me. I remember, I finally had to use the restroom. I was like, I need to use the rest -- so they take me outside to use the restroom, and, you know -- and their custom, you know, you have to squat, even if you're a man to use the bathroom. So they were pushing down on my shoulders, and I was, look, I can't -- you know, get your hands off of me. Well, I fell, and they just thought that was the funniest damn thing. And by the time I --

GLENN: It's like a tribe of Jerry Lewis?


GLENN: Like they're into slapstick.

LUTTRELL: Right. The kid -- the adolescent and the young kids thought that was great, because you know, I was trying to tie these pants, you know, my thumb -- my hand's all busted up, I couldn't tie these pants, I had to have someone tie the pants for me, and they just thought that was great.