Today marks the wide release of the Lone Survivor movie starring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Eric Bana, and Alexander Ludwig. The movie tells the true story of a 2005 operation conducted by a group of U.S. Navy SEALs in the Kundar Province of Afghanistan. The mission was tasked with the capture or killing of Taliban leader Ahmad Shah.
Here is the trailer for the film:
Late on the night of June 27, 2005 a four-man SEAL sniper over-watch team was inserted into the mountains overlooking the village where Shah was believed to be located. The Team was lead by Navy Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy (Kitsch) of SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 (SDVT-1), based out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and included Petty Officer Second Class Danny P. Dietz (Hirsch) from SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 2 (SDVT-2), based out of Little Creek, Virginia; Petty Officer Second Class Matthew G. Axelson (Foster) from SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 (SDVT-1); and Navy Hospital Corpsman Second Class Marcus Luttrell (Wahlberg) from SEAL Team 10 (ST-10) based out of Little Creek, Virginia.
Their mission was to confirm Shah’s location and provide sniper over-watch for the main assault force of SEALs and Marines. Once on scene, they found Shah to have a much larger force then previously thought. Because of the mountainous terrain and atmospheric conditions, Murphy’s team lost communications with the main SEAL unit and Quick Reaction Force (QRF) backing them up.
During their observation, an elderly goat herder, a young adult male, and a 12 year-old boy discovered the team. The team took the three non-combatants into custody and mulled over what they should do. They discussed numerous options including tying them up and leaving them, taking them with them to be extracted, or neutralizing them. After some internal debate, Murphy decided they had to let the civilians go and take their chances.
Within the hour, 200 Taliban fighters surrounded the team and a three-hour firefight ensued. All four SEALs sustained multiple gunshot and shrapnel wounds, as well as cuts, lacerations, and broken bones as they fought and fell down the mountainside. During the firefight, Murphy exposed himself to enemy fire by climbing on top of a ledge, with no cover, to call for air support. After ending his call, Murphy was shot off the ledge.
Two Chinook helicopters, without gunship support and loaded with SEALs, responded to Murphy’s call for assistance. While hovering in position to off-load the SEALs, one of the helicopters was struck by a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) killing all eight SEALs, including Navy Lieutenant Commander Erik Kristensen (Bana) of ST-10 and Petty Officer Second Class Shane E. Patton (Ludwig) of SDVT-1, and eight Army pilots and crewmembers from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.
Murphy, Dietz, and Axelson, fighting side-by-side with their brothers that day, would all perish. Luttrell, would be rescued and protected by local Afghan villagers until he was rescued by a team of Army Delta Operators, Rangers, and Air Force Para-rescue Jumpers (PJs) 5 days later.
Murphy would be awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions that day. Dietz, Axleson, and Luttrell all received the Navy Cross. Luttrell help pen the book “Lone Survivor” while healing from his wounds. He chose director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, The Kingdom) to bring the story of his brothers to the big screen.
The Lone Survivor movie is powerful, emotional, and will make you proud of these noble and brave men. This is not a movie that celebrates war; it is a movie that celebrates the honor, courage, and brotherhood of those who serve in the armed forces of the United States, especially the Navy SEALs. It is quite graphic at times, but nowhere near as graphic as the memories that run through Luttrell’s head every day. After healing from his wounds, Lutrell bravely redeployed to Iraq with SEAL Team 5.
This story will also make you feel honor and respect for the Afghans who risked their lives, and have since suffered reprisals from the Taliban for protecting Luttrell. These people risked everything for a complete stranger, someone not of their tribe, country, or religion. They did so out of a sense of honor and what was right. Luttrell has become “Blood Brothers” with Muhammad Gulab, a leader of the village who rescued him, and is trying to get Gulab and his family green cards so they can relocate to the United States.
Watch the story that 60 Minutes did on the incidents of Operation Red Wings and the relationship between Gulab and Luttrell:
This is a heart-wrenching and unbelievable story of sacrifice, brotherhood, and honor that has been turned into an entertaining and thought-provoking movie.
Conrey Insurance Brokers urges everyone to go support the Lone Survivor movie at your local theater and to find ways to assist not only our brave veterans, but also complete strangers who need our help, like those brave Afghan villagers did for Marcus Luttrell.
God bless the Navy SEALs, all of our brave American military heroes, and the people of Afghanistan who are fighting every day to rid their country of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
“Never Out of the Fight!”