Director Peter Berg’s biographical war film ‘Lone Survivor’ follows a Navy SEAL unit tasked with capturing Taliban leader Ahmad Shah in Afghanistan, who is responsible for killing many of their own, especially the Marines. In 2005, a four-member team within the unit is dropped off at a remote location in Afghanistan, from where they can spot Shah with his armed supporters. One of the team members is Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell from Texas, who is determined to complete this mission with his brothers-in-combat.
Mark Wahlberg stars in the role of the protagonist, who becomes the lone survivor of the mission. The story is based on Luttrell’s 2007 novel about the incident in Afghanistan, titled ‘Lone Survivor: The Incredible True Story of Navy SEALs Under Siege: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10.’ The 2013 film recounts the stories of all the other officers with Marcus, who sadly couldn’t make it out alive. It focuses on how Marcus managed to survive a crossfire with the Taliban with his team when the four of them were very badly outnumbered.
What Happened to the Real Marcus Luttrell?
Born in November 1975, Marcus Luttrell wanted to be a Navy SEAL from a very young age. After graduating from Willis High School in Texas and Sam Houston State University, he enlisted in the US Navy in 1999 and was even posted in Iraq in 2003. As a Petty Officer First Class, he was sent on a mission to Asadabad in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush to capture Ahmad Shah, who was going by the name Muhammad Ismail and had ties with the Taliban. Marcus was one of the four team members who were dropped off near the location in June 2005. Hiding in the mountains in the forest, they were spotted by local herdsmen.
With the advantage of their weapons, Marcus and his team were faced with the tough choice of what to do with the locals since they were sure their cover had been blown. He shared in his book that he and his teammates had an intense discussion about what to do, but they finally decided to release the locals since they were unarmed, and killing them would have been considered murder. But soon enough, they were surrounded by at least 20-30 Taliban members, all with weapons. The soldiers fought back with everything they had, but Marcus lost his brothers in the crossfire.
Severely injured himself, Marcus still found his way to a local village where the Pashtuns helped him out of their duty and sheltered him from the Taliban till the US forces came to rescue him. Marcus, with his many injuries and shards in his legs, was taken for treatment immediately after he was found. He even received some medical care while in Afghanistan in the village from helpful locals. Even after surviving the incident, he went on another mission in 2006 to Ramadi but got severely injured again and returned to the US in 2007 due to these injuries. Marcus was granted medical retirement from the Navy in 2009. He then started working on his first novel, the ‘Lone Survivor.’
Where is Marcus Luttrell Today?
Marcus Luttrell is now a retired Navy SEAL awarded with the Navy Cross and Purple Heart for his time in Afghanistan. He’s the author of two books, the second one being the 2012 novel ‘Service: A Navy SEAL at War’ which he co-authored. He is also the founder of the Lone Survivor Foundation, an effort he started in 2010 in his hometown of Houston, Texas, to provide all kinds of support to injured soldiers and their families to help with their transition home. On the personal front, Marcus was still single during his stint in Afghanistan, but now, since 2010, he is married to Melanie Juneau and has two children, Axe and Addie.
Marcus’ older son, Axe, is named after one of his teammates from the Afghanistan operation, Matthew Axelson. He has decided to take his traumatic incident in a positive stride, and since he views himself as a survivor, he is also helping out others in need. Marcus is now also a motivational speaker who shares his experience and the need to overcome adversity with everyone he can. He is the host of a podcast called ‘Team Never Quit,’ where he discusses such stories about heroes and survivors with his guests and how important it is to heal from a bad incident.
The decorated Navy SEAL also talked about his experiences with a crowd of injured people in 2017 in Jacksonville and became the keynote speaker at the 2023 Voices of Vision event by The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber. In a recent Rodeo Time Podcast with Dale Bisby, Marcus discussed his books and what it was like being in Afghanistan. He discussed how many lives were also lost during the rescue efforts for him and his team in 2005 and how a lot of people had come to his rescue during the time since he was the only survivor.
Marcus also discussed what it’s like to give up the uniform and take on a different role, like he is doing with many of his friends, who have taken up varying professions and are adjusting to a different kind of life. Still, Marcus has put that life of war behind him and is enjoying being a father and husband and living his life to the fullest.
Read More: Is Lone Survivor a True Story?