The soul of The Lone Survivor: The warrior ethos for all of us

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WASHINGTON, February 8, 2014 – If you have had the opportunity to see Lone Survivor, you have experienced the power of a heroic account of Homeric proportion. You cannot help but stare in awe at the actions of modern day warriors whose stature on the field of battle met or exceeded the heroism of King Leonidas and his 300.

Lone Survivor
Lone Survivor

It is profoundly inspiring to know that there are still giants among us who stand with ease next to Achilles. The movie necessarily glosses over the process of becoming a U.S. Navy SEAL and jumbles the actual timeline a bit, but fully accomplishes the goal of factually presenting the actions of three bearers of the Navy Cross and one of the Medal of Honor. The Lone Survivor is the true account of how four Navy SEALS mauled an army of Taliban, despite suffering mortal wounds and sustained enemy fire.

As the title implies, only one survived. Three fell in combat only after inflicting casualties of approximately 25 to 1. The only criticism of the movie that can be made is that the colossal acts of heroism depicted in the move pale in comparison to the actual, detailed account presented in the book.

Petty Officer First Class Marcus Luttrell, USN, SEAL relates an epic in his book “Lone Survivor.” He details the brutal indoc and BUD/S selection process which forges highly motivated men into our nation’s apex special operations force. He provides humanizing detail regarding himself and his teammates, who participated in the ill-fated Operation Red Wings.


He and the other three members of his team, Navy Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, Petty Officer Second Class Danny P. Dietz, and Petty Officer Second Class Matthew G. Axelson, were inserted behind Taliban lines in the Hindu-Kush mountains of Afghanistan in 2005. Their highly dangerous mission was to provide overwatch for the impeding Operation Red Wings, an effort to capture or eliminate a high value Taliban target. Luttrell’s team was compromised and, as a result, a pitched battle ensued involving approximately 200 Taliban fighters.

Luttrell does not veil his contempt for our modern media establishment. In fact, in both the move and the book, CNN is described as sympathetic to the Taliban cause. Not surprisingly, the Islamic network, Al-Jazeera, is considered to be sympathetic to terrorist interests. Luttrell is explicit in his assertion that the American media establishment propagated sympathetic narratives that impeded operational decision making.

Though the liberal media seems bent on providing aid and comfort to the enemy, it must be our task to understand our warrior’s sacrifice, to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and most importantly, live inspired by their example.

There are two themes in Luttrell’s book and in the movie that are profoundly inspirational. One is the idea of “striving,” and the other is the maxim, “you’re never out of the fight.”

There can be no better way to honor the sacrifice and bravery of these Navy SEALS than to incorporate into our lives the principals that guided theirs. No matter what your vocation, you can strive for excellence in everything you do, as they strove for and achieved excellence in their own lives.

Physically, spiritually, and intellectually, we ought to be inspired to achieve excellence. Another great warrior, Chief Tecumseh, once said, “Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.”

Second, we should be engaged in the struggle of our time, regardless of our position in life. As Luttrell and his teammates fought, so should we fight and strive, remembering that “you’re never out of the fight.” This phrase embodies the idea of endurance, of perseverance. As constitutional conservatives, we should relentlessly engage the opposition wherever we find them. If you can write, then write. If you can speak, then speak out against the encroaching darkness. Whatever it is you do, soldier bravely on despite insurmountable odds, despite disappointment, or impending defeat. You cannot live well, if you are not prepared to end well.

Ultimately, the book and the movie are about legacy. We can only carry forward their heroic legacy by aspiring to the heroic in our own lives. At the end of the movie Saving Private Ryan, the mortally wounded Captain Miller mutters to Private Ryan, “James, earn this…” We all have a duty to earn what is bequeathed to us through the deaths and sufferings of our great warriors.

The Lone Survivor is a clarion call to the banner of liberty; may we never falter when we are called to stand in the breach.

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  • MsgtGdubb

    At times the realistic special effects are hard to watch. I have seen it twice and I would not recommend it to the faint of heart. That being said, it is a well crafted, superbly acted story of patriotism, brotherhood and just plain guts. A great movie that dares to “tell it like it is”.

    • I am one of the faint of heart and I went to see it, jumped at every bullet that hit them….but I am glad I went to see this movie, it was excellent though I am sad to say our military goes thru this. Go see it, you need to fight for freedom in your own way here as they did for you there. Freedom is certainly not free!

      • MsgtGdubb

        I could not have said it better myself, Frances. Well Said!

  • IRAMOE

    I have yet to see it, but plan to tomorrow. However, MsgtGdudd, I have to disagree. Even the faint of heart have to see things like this now. As in the article, we are never out of the fight. This country is being attacked by liberalism at ever possible turn. We have to make America aware of the values that have been stolen by the left. The BEST way is to start at the beginning, by showing what the heros of this country do for us and the values they hold. By seeing this they might understand the values their parents (except for the “hippies”) held and why our military does what it does.

  • sonney

    I know this will sound barbaric but the Rules of engagement must be changed. If they didn’t have those rule then that mission would have been an success and those men would have came home. Until we let our brave men in uniform do what they are sent in harms way have to do we will never win another war. We can’t not keep sacrificing our people when we are against other that fight to win and have no rules of engagement.

    • agreed…….when the choice could be Leavenworth or your life, the rules of engagement must go! this has been a problem for a long time and it is not right….fight to win whatever it takes. I am sick of seeing our military sent to prison because of “the rules of engagement”..

    • masteredq

      I agree Totally………..

  • Dominic Milan

    If we are going to send our troops to war then Congress should declare war. Instead they want a TV war where there is no sacrifice of convenience at home, no taxes are raised to pay for the war, most of the new Congressional reps have not served, nor have their children. None of the recycle programs like during WWII, only USO tours by some performers (which I appreciate greatly). Terrorists from Saudi Arabia attack us so we go to war with Iraq? We get tied down in Pakistan where the people and government don’t want us? After getting bogged down in no-win conflicts we have some in Congress wanting us to attack Iran and Syria? Do I support the troops? Yes. Do they do a good job? Absolutely! Should we be sending our blood and treasure to where we are not wanted? Absolutely not. “As constitutional conservatives, we should relentlessly engage the opposition wherever we find them.” What happened to “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations–entangling alliances with none, I deem the essential principles of our government, and consequently those which ought to shape its administration.” –Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural Address

  • ‘ “As constitutional conservatives, we should relentlessly engage the
    opposition wherever we find them.” What happened to “Peace, commerce and
    honest friendship with all nations–entangling alliances with none, I
    deem the essential principles of our government, and consequently
    those which ought to shape its administration.” –Thomas Jefferson: 1st
    Inaugural Address’

    I think you misunderstand the point being made re: “relentlessly engage the opposition”. Constitutional conservatives eagerly agree with TJ’s admonition to peace, but not peace at the cost of freedom. The key to understanding the author is the context provided by “wherever we find them.” …he is referring to the political and philosophical battlefield. We must stand our ground in favor of the constitution or there will be no chance at the peace TJ called for.

    The warrior ethos is not a suicide pact, nor is the commitment to peace. Both are required for peace to be achieved and maintained. …oh how we all wish nature was different, but all of nature closes in until part of it pushes back and claims its right to be.

  • Tami Nantz

    One of the best movies I’ve ever seen. I left with a deep sense of gratitude for those go give so much.