June 23, 2012
By Elise Cooper
Marcus Luttrell with James D. Hornfischer has written another emotional story that the reader will not want to put down. Titled Service, this one is the sequel to the compelling and gripping Lone Survivor.
(Lone Survivor chronicles what happened to Marcus in Afghanistan. It documents a reconnaissance mission, Operation Redwing, in June 2005 when four US Navy SEALs were dropped into the mountainous region between the Afghan-Pakistan borders to observe the activities of a top al-Qaeda leader. It is believed that local goat herders who had crossed the SEALs’ path, yet were released by them, informed the Taliban of the SEALs’ whereabouts. After an intense firefight, three of the four SEALs were killed. The local villagers rescued Luttrell, who had received multiple fractures and wounds. After fighting off the Taliban from attempting to extract Luttrell, the villagers eventually sent an emissary to the nearest U.S. base. Unfortunately, the first rescue mission helicopter was shot down, but a second attempt was successful.)
Service, for its part, is a very moving tribute to those who selflessly put their lives on the line out of love for their country, sometimes paying the ultimate price. In Service, Luttrell provides more facts about Operation Redwing and the mission to rescue him. There is also a very detailed description of conditions in Ramadi, Iraq, from 2006 to 2008, involving American troops and the Iraqi citizens. American Thinker interviewed Marcus about his book and thoughts regarding the War on Terror.
Marcus told American Thinker that as he was recovering from his wounds, he thought about G-d, country, and family. Service was written to honor all. He wanted people to understand that “it’s going above and beyond yourself for the better good of everybody. I get more of a reward for helping others than helping myself. Our Founding Fathers knew that. I wanted to point out in the book that soldiers are fighting for our freedoms. Just look up at our flag. That is the most perfect representation of why we do what we do. We have endured the chaos, terror, and horror that happened over there. We fight for our flag. In Lone Survivor, I explained my mentality, that the bad guys dropped two towers in one of my cities, and I wanted to get them.”
American Thinker asked Marcus if he could expand on some of the details talked about in Service. He noted that even though his rescuer, Gulab, had to endure his car being blown up and his house burned down, “he told me that he would save me again if he had to do it all over, because that is what a man does, no matter what are the consequences. They still follow the 1,000-year-old traditions. That is why I am here today, because they respected the tradition to help me. I hope that Americans recognize that there are very good people out there in these countries.”
Marcus offered Texas hospitality when he had Gulab come to visit him at his ranch. He commented that it was the serenity the villager enjoyed the most — just sitting on his front deck, eating doughnuts, and not having to hear “any gunfire or noise from bombs blowing up, and not worrying about anyone trying to kill him. It was very peaceful for him. He is in line to be the village elder. Unfortunately, there is always a roller coaster ride because while he was here, one of his cousins got killed and another got elected to the Parliament.”
In Service, Marcus attempts to show there are good and bad in all societies. He describes how his Labrador Retriever, DASY, acquired while recovering from his injuries, was shot, beaten with a baseball bat, and killed by some Texas hoodlums. This dog was named for the three SEALs who died in Operation Redwing.
American Thinker asked Marcus what happened to those heinous, despicable individuals, since he did not mention the incident in the book. He explained that when the book went to print, there was not a verdict, but since then, the four got off with a light sentence or none at all: one received two years’ imprisonment, one received five years of probation, and the other two got off free and clear.
Marcus felt that the most important chapters in the book were the ones dedicated to the “Warrior Queens” and “Heroes of the Day.” There are very touching stories by a few military spouses who discuss what it is like being married to a SEAL. Marcus directly noted, “I feel very lucky since I met my wife, who is my soul mate. I love her more than life itself. My family is now my focus. I wanted to show how important the spouses are to the men in service. If I or anyone else had a bad day thinking about our combat experiences, you don’t go to your teammates with your emotional feelings; you go to your wife. The spouses of the military personnel are so overlooked. I want Americans to know Service is not just about the guys in uniform; it’s also the spouses who are serving their country.”
Among those Marcus considers true heroes are those in the Search and Rescue squads of the Air Force, who have a “never say quit attitude.” He told American Thinker he owes his life to these heroes, who risked theirs to save him. “I can’t tell you how many times they could have died taking fire while their helicopters hovered. Everyone played a hand in getting me out: the SEALs, the army, the Marines, and the CIA. I want Americans to understand that to get a mission accomplished requires a team effort. There are other military organizations out there that should get credit like the SEALs, but they don’t. The bin Laden operation was successful because of years and years of work. The credit should have been given to the U.S. forces, the U.S. intelligence, and the U.S. military.”
One of the most powerful parts of the book is when he explains his re-integration issues. A moving quote: “But survival wasn’t necessarily a wonderful thing if it left me stuck wondering every day what I was meant to do with this gift of life[.] … At home, the world is far less urgent and clear. When I went back to Texas, I felt like a lost dog looking for a new home … you may feel like you’re ready for action, but there’s no action to be had. Your internal wiring is standing by, ready to offer its full capacity to carry the charge of the physical, psychological, and emotional overload you’ve gotten used to in the war zone[.] … Combat is like a drug.”
American Thinker asked Marcus about the quote, and he explained: “SEALs live for combat. I knew I was supposed to be a SEAL, but then I got all busted up. Every day I wish I could go back, and every day I think about it. I miss the adrenaline, the action, and the camaraderie with the guys.”
What sidelined him were all the injuries suffered in combat and the subsequent surgeries. This June, Marcus will have undergone another back surgery. Since he will be bedridden for six weeks, he will be doing a lot of reading, including people’s comments about Service.
This book illustrates those heroes who fought along with Marcus, as well as his personal awe-inspiring story. It is a must-read for all Americans who are grateful to all those who served and are serving.