Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and The Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson
Review by Steve Butzel, Assistant Director
Lone Survivor tells the story of Operation Redwing, a dangerous Navy SEAL mission to locate, capture, and kill Taliban fighters in northern Afghanistan along the Pakistani border in 2005. The story is told by Marcus Luttrell, the one member of the SEAL team who survived, and is co-written with Patrick Robinson.
The book begins with an overview of Luttrell’s upbringing in Texas and his informal but rigorous training that prepared him for his later entry into the official SEAL training program. Luttrell describes in vivid detail the extremely grueling, virtually life threatening SEAL training program which few complete. The rest of the book is devoted to telling the story of Operation Redwing.
One scene from the operation sticks with me in particular. At the beginning of the mission, while awaiting the right time to descend upon an enemy village, the SEAL team is run into by a small group of unarmed men and their herd. Having had their cover blown, the soldiers immediately capture the men are faced with an ethical and military dilemma. Follow the military rules of engagement, let the men go and abort the mission entirely having had their cover blown. Or, kill the men, continue on with the mission and risk being sent to military prison if the international press ever found out. The SEALS decide to let the men go, and from there, the mission goes downhill quickly, becoming increasingly dangerous and costly.
On the whole, the story is well told and will interest anyone with a liking for stories about military training and modern military campaigns. I also recommend the movie by the same name that was based on the book. Be prepared for graphic violence and a tense ride. Admirably, little of the violence shown in the movie is of a gratuitous or overtly glamorized nature.
About the Author: Marcus Luttrell is a former Petty Officer First Class and United States Navy SEAL. He received the Navy Cross for his actions in 2005 facing Taliban fighters during Operation Redwing. Born in Houston, Texas and raised in Willis, Texas, Luttrell joined the United States Navy in March 1999. He began Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training with Class 226 in Coronado, California. He graduated with Class 228 after suffering a fractured femur early in his training. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2005. Prior to Afghanistan, Luttrell had been part of SEAL Team 5 and participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom doing various operations there.