I recently finished the book Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. My son, who also read the book, thought that I wouldn’t care for the first half because it detailed the training that Marcus went through to become a Navy SEAL.
Au contraire! I was thoroughly intrigued about the grueling things they had to learn/do/endure. Almost motivated me to do something to get in better physical shape. Almost. (We met a SEAL while we were in Costa Rica. I was really impressed with him — especially his humility about his training and skills!)
I did come to understand one thing. Something that wasn’t explicitly mentioned but was an ‘aha’ moment for me. I have seen (mostly through movies) how drill sergeants are in your face, yelling obscenities, and dishing out not very nice treatment to those under him.
I came to understand that that type of treatment is meant to toughen up the soldiers. In the event of being captured by the enemy, the soldiers will be able to withstand (especially mentally) the cruelties that their captors might inflict upon them.
I do not necessarily condone that practice. I just understand it now.
In the second half of the book, Luttrell explains how, in June 2005, he led a four-man team of Navy SEALs into the mountains of Afghanistan on a mission to kill a Taliban leader thought to be allied with Osama bin Laden. He didn’t have a good feeling about the mission but went ahead with it anyway.
Not too long into their mission, they came across 2 men and a teen-aged boy. His team had a heated discussion about whether or not to kill them. They did not like the idea of killing innocent, unarmed people. But they also knew that if they didn’t kill the three people, those people would tell the Taliban and then the SEAL’s would have the Taliban after them. The decision was left up to Marcus. He chose to let them live.
Part of his decision was based on his Christian beliefs. But part was also because he knew how critical the media would be if those three civilians were killed. His insight and explanation about how manipulative the media is was excellent! (I agree with his assessment! Hate the media that manipulates events to sway people’s opinions.)
Because of his decision to let them live, those three people did indeed go to the Taliban. The Taliban did indeed come after the SEALs.
The second half of the book details the heroism of the team — how a 4-man team fought against a 150 man Taliban force wiping out at least half of them but at the expense of 3 Navy SEAL’s lives.
It also details Afghani humanity. Luttrell, wounded and severely dehydrated, was found by an Afghani village doctor. The doctor took him in, tended to his medical needs, and committed himself and his entire village to protect Luttrell against the Taliban. Amazing!!
This is a griping tale. If you’re reading habits lean toward Pollyanna tales, don’t read this. If you want a spellbinding, inspiring, heartbreaking story of courage, patriotism, and sacrifice, then this book is for you. I highly recommend it!