In the 2014 film “Lone Survivor,” Mark Wahlberg played a character named Marcus Luttrell. On Wednesday afternoon, Aurora Cooperative members got to see the real deal.
Luttrell, a retired Navy Seal, recounted his military exploits at Aurora Cooperative’s annual meeting, held at the Pinnacle Bank Expo Center. Aurora Cooperative members believe they are “tougher together,” which also applies to Navy SEALs.
In 2005, Luttrell and three other SEALs were dropped into a mountainous region on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The other SEALs didn’t make it home. Luttrell, a native of East Texas, wrote the best-selling book “Lone Survivor,” upon which the film is based.
It is customary for the men in his family to join the military, Luttrell said. He and his identical twin brother were both Navy SEALs.
SEAL training is divided into three phases, each 14 weeks long. The first phase, he said, consists of “mental and physical torture” just to see if you’ve got what it takes to advance to the next stage. The next phases involve underwater training and the use of weapons and demolition.
In his underwater training, his longest dive lasted 10 hours and 47 minutes. During that dive, he fell asleep twice.
Luttrell’s class originally numbered 164. Ten of those men graduated.
When SEALs are sent on a mission, their target is “the head of a snake,” he said.
The mission written about in the book was part of “Operation Redwing.” He said the goal of the mission was to kill or capture a Taliban leader who had ties to Osama Bin Laden.
Early in the mission, the Taliban ambushed the four SEALs on a ridgeline. The SEALs killed one of the attackers. “And it unleashed hell on our left flank,” he said.
The gunfight lasted more than three hours. According to Luttrell’s biography in the Aurora Cooperative program, the Americans displayed “characteristic SEAL determination and bravery, refusing to retreat from the fight despite being heavily outnumbered.”
A rescue helicopter carrying 16 people was shot down, killing everyone on board.
At the end of the battle, Luttrell’s teammates were dead and he was seriously injured. His face was shredded. He had three cracked vertebrae, a broken nose, a torn rotator cuff and many shrapnel wounds.
When he came to, he started crawling because he was unable to stand.
Luttrell crawled seven miles through the mountains. He was finally rescued by residents of a village named Sabray.
The Taliban found him and planned to remove his head. Fortunately, the villagers snatched him back. A member of that group contacted the nearest Marine outpost, leading to Luttrell’s rescue.
Luttrell talked about the stunt men who worked on the “Lone Survivor” film. One of the stunt men looked sharp as he traversed the mountain. “I don’t remember looking that cool,” he said.
Luttrell, who retired from the Navy in 2007, met his wife on a blind date. She is a Louisiana native. It’s rare for a Texan to marry outside of the state’s gene pool, he said. His wife brought a son into the marriage. It’s a big deal “walking into another bull’s pasture,” said Luttrell, who never uses profanity when women are present.
Luttrell supplied a couple of amusing definitions for Navy terms. Navy, he said, stands for Never Again Volunteer Yourself.
But once they start something, he said, Navy SEALs never like to quit.
During his talk, Luttrell said he had a bond with everyone who has ever served in the military. Every member of the military he said, was “just as extreme as we were.” He feels a bond with all veterans and always will, he said.