Out of the 1.39 million people actively serving in the US Armed Forces today, only around 200 to 250 get to become Navy SEALS each year. This is because they undergo rigorous training with high attrition rates to become the elite fighting force they are. They must be ready to risk their lives for their country on some of the most complex and dangerous missions.
Because these men give so much, many SEALs become inspirations to people worldwide. One of the most prolific of these famous seals is the Lone Survivor, Marcus Luttrell. Today we will look at this incredible SEAL's life and naval career.
Who Is Marcus Luttrell
Marcus Luttrell was born in Houston, Texas, on November 7th, 1975. He knew he wanted to join the elite fighting force early on as he started getting ready for SEAL training at 14. In those years, he and his twin brother would do regular physical activity with Billy Shelton, an Army veteran in their neighborhood.
Throughout high school, Marcus and his brother Morgan would do a lot of fishing, hunting, martial arts, weights, and endurance training. The training continued as Luttrell attended Sam Houston State University, where he earned an international business degree. After his graduation in 1998, he enlisted in the Navy.
Training and Early Naval Career
Luttrell's first stop as an enlisted member of the Navy was boot camp, followed by Hospital Corpsman-A school. After graduating from these programs, he could finally transfer to SEAL training.
He joined BUD/S class 226 but fractured a femur during a training exercise. He was determined to complete the training and finally graduated with class 228 in April of 2000. After BUD/S, he met the Army jump and SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) courses.
He completed six months of medical corps training at Fort Bragg as a fully qualified SEAL. There he learned about emergency medicine and battlefield medicine techniques in the Special Operations Combat Medic course.
His first deployment was as part of SEAL Team Five during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He helped subdue any remaining resistance, capture terrorists, and join the search for WMDs.
Afghanistan and Operation Red Wings
In 2005, Luttrell deployed to Afghanistan as part of SEAL Team Ten. He assisted in several counter-terrorist operations and served with SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One. There, the story of the Lone Survivor, Operation Red Wings, took place.
Operation Red Wings was a large, joint military operation in which elements of the US Marines and the Navy set out to disrupt Taliban activity in Asadabad. Marc Luttrell, Michael Murphy, Danny Dietz, and Matt Axelson were sent out on a recon patrol as part of Operation Red Wings. A group of herdsmen spotted them, and though they knew the herdsman might reveal their location to the local Taliban, they decided not to do anything to the herdsman as they were non-combatants.
Not long after that, the four men were ambushed. While taking small arms fire from three different directions, they tried to radio in for assistance but could not communicate much more than they were under attack. Lieutenant Murphy bravely decided to climb to a more exposed spot and radio for reinforcements again.
Marcus Luttrell tried to keep the other two men alive as they waited for the reinforcements but was separated from Axelson and lost Dietz. A Chinook was dispatched with SEALs and special Air Force rescue operators onboard but was also tragically shot down. At the end of the operation, Marcus Luttrell was the only American out of 20 who hadn't perished in the recon and rescue attempts.
Luttrell continued to evade capture and was helped to the village of Sabray. From there, he managed to get a note out to the Marines, who then launched a large rescue operation. When he was finally rescued, he was taken by Air Force personnel to recover.
Marcus Luttrell, Danny Dietz, and Matt Axelson became Navy Cross winners, while Michael Murphy was awarded a Medal of Honor posthumously.
Redeployment to Iraq
After recovering from his injuries, Luttrell went back into active duty. He was deployed to Iraq again and fought in the battle of Ramadi, where he rubbed shoulders with many other famous SEALs, including Jocko Willink and Chris Kyle. However, after having his knees blown out again and sustaining more spinal injuries, he retired from being an active SEAL.
Life Post Retirement
After his medical discharge from the Navy in 2007, Marcus Luttrell wrote his first book, Lone Survivor. In it, he detailed the events of the firefight in which so many brave men perished.
He also wrote a follow-up book called Service. In Service, he focuses on the valiant efforts of the men who rescued him after Operation Red Wings. It also follows Luttrell through redeployment in Ramadi.
He met the love of his life, Melanie Juneau, and the two married in November 2010. In May of 2011, their son Axe, named after Matt Axelson was born. They welcomed their daughter Addie in August of the following year.
Marcus Luttrell also made a few cameos in the 2013 film adaptation of Lone Survivor, in which Mark Wahlberg portrays him. The most notable among these cameos is that he appears in the helicopter that gets shot down in the movie. He stated that he was on the other side of the natural ridge when that happened, so getting to 'die' in the helicopter was incredibly profound.
Learn More About Marcus Luttrell and Other Famous Navy Seals
Marcus Luttrell's life, passion, dedication, and experiences are awe-inspiring, humbling, engaging, and worth learning more about. From knowing that he wanted to be a commando at a very young age to going through one of the most tragic firefights in Afghanistan and returning to serve again, there's a lot to learn from his example. It's also incredibly honorable for him to continue to shine a light on fellow servicemen with his work while also becoming a family man.
There's a lot to learn about the Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and the person, and we have both of his books available on our site. We also stock resources for and by other famous Navy SEALs. Check out our catalog of books by prolific SEALs today.