'Lone Survivor' Shares SEAL Stories of Sacrifice
NORFOLK, Va. -- American freedom comes at a high price and the elite Navy SEALs know that all too well.
One retired Navy SEAL is now on a mission to tell the world about the incredible bravery of our military.
Marcus Luttrell became known worldwide as the "Lone Survivor" of a deadly battle in the mountains of Afghanistan. The 2005 "Operation Redwing" ultimately led to the largest loss of life in Navy SEAL history.
Two years later, Luttrell told CBN News that he talked to God while in battle and prayed that he would survive so that the courage of his comrades would not be forgotten.
Luttrell wrote about his experience in the New York Times bestseller, Lone Survivor.
"I made a promise to my guys, when I came to, and I crawled inside that mountain," Luttrell told CBN News in 2007. "I was just like, 'Hey, You get me out of here, and I'll tell everybody how brave these guys fought.' I said that, and I was like, 'I'll get out of here just to do that.' I was like, 'I ain't going to die out here. No way.'"
What followed is the focus of the retired Navy SEAL's new book, Service.
"Service is your undying, unwavering devotion to God, your family, and your country," Luttrell told CBN News recently. "That's what service is to me. It's not about myself; it's about what I can do for them."
'Thank You For Being There'
Luttrell eventually went back to war in 2006. He spent six months in the most dangerous city in the world at the time -- Ramadi, Iraq.
Instead of remote mountains, Luttrell found himself in the brutal maze of urban warfare.
"Everything is a hiding hole or a fighting position or something like that, and then you're dealing with the community," Luttrell explained. "I mean it's a city. There are civilians there."
Luttrell fought in Ramadi when it was at its highest intensity. By the time he left, the city had been subdued in what has been called the greatest victory in the history of U.S. Special Operations Forces.
"A woman approached me (and said), 'My husband's dead, and my boys have been killed. Thank you for being here,'" Luttrell recalled. "And that justified it for me. Americans, we do a lot of things. We go out and help people in their time of need."
Luttrell added that being a part of the victory in Ramadi helped his psyche somewhat.
"Getting back on the horse and getting back over there to prove to myself that I took a hard hit in Afghanistan, but I still had it," Luttrell said. "I still had the mental capacity to get things done."
His body, however, told a different story. Luttrell said war tore his body down to the point where he could no longer serve on the front lines.
"Guys were having to pick me up and carry me around," Luttrell told CBN News. "I just wasn't sleeping or anything like that. The pain was getting to me."
His military career had come to an end but not his story.
Former President George W. Bush awarded him the prestigious Navy Cross for Valor. Luttrell also saw his SEAL team members posthumously recognized for their service.
His team leader, Lt. Michael Murphy, received the nation's highest award for bravery -- the Medal of Honor. The Navy Cross went to Petty Officers Matthew Axelson and Danny Dietz.
A New Mission
Luttrell's new season of service involves sharing the stories of his comrades and serving his family. He is now married and the father of two children. He says his wife helped to pull him out of the shadows.
"I write a journal to my wife every day," Luttrell shared. "I write her letters and stuff like that, and at the end of it I say, 'Thank God for you because He gave you to me.'"
"When I was in that point in my life when I wasn't in the SEAL teams anymore, and I was just kind of trying to figure it out, I wasn't looking for a wife," he continued. "Never thought I was going to be married or anything like that. And then, the next thing you know, bam, there she is."
The retired Navy SEAL hopes his new book helps people better understand what sets those apart who are willing to lay down their lives for a noble cause.
"I've been willing to die for any of my teammates. That's the reason our training is the way it is -- it's as hard as it is," Luttrell explained. "We have to go through that to make sure we're willing to give it all... to preserve our way of life. If we don't do that, then the terrorists are just going to keep coming in and doing what they do."
Luttrell believes the ultimate example of service is Jesus Christ.
"I think people who wouldn't even acknowledge that -- that would definitely scream through their head," he said.