Honoring Operation Red Wings and Meeting Marcus Luttrell - ITS Tactical

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Honoring Operation Red Wings and Meeting Marcus Luttrell

By Bryan Black

I distinctly remember the news circulating around the Naval Special Warfare Center on June 28th, 2005, that four SDV SEALs were missing following a SR (Special Reconnaissance) mission in North Eastern Afghanistan.

Later that day I also learned of a downed MH-47 Chinook carrying a QRF (Quick Reaction Force) of 8 SEALs and 8 Night Stalkers attempting a rescue mission. It was a bone chilling realization that I had just heard about the greatest loss of life the community had seen since WWII.

It briefly flashed me back to the events of September 11th, as I had many of the same feelings of wanting to do something, but being unable to. All I could do is stand by for further news of the tragedy.

Everyone in the office I was stationed at huddled around the computers and telephones eagerly awaiting news of the four missing SEALs. By the end of the day that Tuesday, we still had no confirmation that any of the four SEALs had survived.

Standing By

During the next three days, it looked as if there was little hope in finding the missing SEALs, but no one lost faith. We were all pulling for them. Murphy, Dietz, Axelson and Luttrell. Everyone was talking about them, and in such a small community, everyone had stories to share. Not only about those still missing, but also those who had been lost in the rescue attempt.

Late Friday afternoon, July 1st, we finally received news that a message had been delivered to Camp Blessing, a Marine outpost in the Kunar Province, with word on our guys. At this point we didn’t know who had sent the message, or if all four of the SEALs were still alive.

That evening and into the morning of the 2nd, a massive search and rescue operation was unfolding to rescue the SEALs. Armed with the information given to them by Marcus Luttrell, who had been taken in by a village, the S&R force was able to locate Luttrell on July 2nd.

I received a call from my Chief that Saturday, letting me know that Luttrell had been found, and they were still looking for the others. It wasn’t for another six days that Murphy and Dietz were located, and Axelson around the 10-day mark.

While we were all thankful for Luttrell’s rescue, it was still a very somber vibe that circulated around the Center for the next few weeks. While I hadn’t personally known any of the 11 SEALs killed, I felt very connected to the event.

Meeting Luttrell

Later that July, I was busy with my usual tasks around the Naval Special Warfare Center, and was leaving the office to run an errand when I almost ran right into a man entering the office. As I looked up from the flip flops, shorts and t-shirt, I couldn’t help but affix my gaze onto the longest beard I’d ever seen while in the Navy.

This man before me had long hair, sunglasses and a beard that no joke, went all the way down to his stomach. As he pulled off his sunglasses, I briefly felt that I’d seen his face before, but asked if I could help him with anything.

After all, it wasn’t everyday that a civilian, or a brother with a serious No-Shave Chit entered the office. He extended his hand and said “Just here to see the guys, I’m Marcus Luttrell.” I immedietely got the chills, shook his hand and said what an honor it was to meet him.

I dropped what I was doing to stay in the office and eagerly listen in on what this patriot had to say. After reuniting with some of his former classmates from BUD/s that I worked with, he proceeded to tell everyone the story of Operation Redwing.

A lot of what he mentioned is still classified and not included in the book Lone Survivor, which I’d highly recommend everyone read. It was fascinating, yet humbling, to hear the details first hand of the operation.

Luttrell is every bit the humble Texan that you’ve seen in the interviews, and it was indeed an honor to meet him and see the smirk on his face when I told him I was from the best damn state in the nation too.

Haunting Memory

There was a video we received shortly after Luttrell’s rescue and the bodies of Murphy, Dietz and Axelson had been located. It showed these patriot’s bodies being stripped of their weapons and belongings by the Taliban.

Memories of the video still sends chills down my spine when I think about it. I’ll never forget the erie music playing and “Allah Akbar” being chanted.

It fires me up just thinking about it to this day, and I will never forget the sacrifice these patriots have made four our great nation. Please take a moment of silence today to remember those lost during Operation Redwing.

Navy SEALs

SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

  • Lt. (SEAL) Michael P. Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y.
  • Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew G. Axelson, 29, of Cupertino, Calif.
  • Machinist Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Eric S. Patton, 22, of Boulder City, Nev.
  • Senior Chief Information Systems Technician (SEAL) Daniel R. Healy, 36, of Exeter, N.H.
  • Quartermaster 2nd Class (SEAL) James Suh, 28, of Deerfield Beach, Fla.

SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 2, Virginia Beach, Va.

  • Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny P. Dietz, 25, of Littleton, Colo.

SEAL Team 10, Virginia Beach, Va.

  • Chief Fire Controlman (SEAL) Jacques J. Fontan, 36, of New Orleans, La.
  • Lt. Cmdr. (SEAL) Erik S. Kristensen, 33, of San Diego, Calif.
  • Electronics Technician 1st Class (SEAL) Jeffery A. Lucas, 33, of Corbett, Ore.
  • Lt. (SEAL) Michael M. McGreevy Jr., 30, of Portville, N.Y.
  • Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SEAL) Jeffrey S. Taylor, 30, of Midway, W.Va.

Army Night Stalkers

3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Hunter Army Air Field, Ga.

  • Staff Sgt. Shamus O. Goare, 29, of Danville, Ohio.
  • Chief Warrant Officer Corey J. Goodnature, 35, of Clarks Grove, Minn.
  • Sgt. Kip A. Jacoby, 21, of Pompano Beach, Fla.
  • Sgt. 1st Class Marcus V. Muralles, 33, of Shelbyville, Ind.
  • Maj. Stephen C. Reich, 34, of Washington Depot, Conn.
  • Sgt. 1st Class Michael L. Russell, 31, of Stafford, Va.
  • Chief Warrant Officer Chris J. Scherkenbach, 40, of Jacksonville, Fla.

HQ Company, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Ky.

  • Master Sgt. James W. Ponder III, 36, of Franklin, Tenn.

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  • stump172

    Great post Bryan. Thanks.

    I’m in for the moment of silence AND a donation to Spec Ops Warrior Foundation.

    Lets put their kids through college.

    • Thanks Stump, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation is my top charity too. I donated to it through the time I was in the Navy, and continue to do so to this day.

      ~ Bryan

  • Great post.

    All to often we get caught up in our lives and daily routine and often take for granted the great Men and Women that protect us and maintain our freedom.

    For all of our military, my family and I “Thank You” for all that you do and sacrifice! God Bless!

  • LarryRocha

    I live in Littleton just a couple of blocks from Danny’s monument. I have had the honor of meeting his father and we spoke of prospects of getting the book made into film. His sister was working with the director on a script at the time. I sincerely wish we had more men like the fallen and Marcus, and that our sheep could duly recognize what all these MEN have done and are doing for us every single day.

  • John T

    Great write up. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten.

    R.I.P., true heroes among men.

    Death to the scum that dare attack our troops.

  • Will Comptis

    Another write up that makes me proud to be part of itstactical. Marcus Luttrell’s personal account of Operation Redwing in his book Lone Survivor changed my life. Anytime I feel that life is difficult, I just remember what those Patriots did in Afghanistan. Life instantly becomes a walk in the park. Thank you to all service men and women everywhere.

  • Kevin Larkin

    “Memories of the video still sends chills down my spine when I think about it. I’ll never forget the erie music playing and “Allah Akbar” being chanted.”

    I remember watching that exact same video and feeling exactly the same. It was scary to see those Talibans with their skinny hands rifling through their uniforms. Utterly disgusting.

  • Cory

    Great write up Bryan,
    I can’t believe it has been that long since this happened. I didn’t know any of them, of course, having been an Army man myself. But it still hurts, still touches a spot deep down inside that makes my blood boil.
    I was prepping for my 2nd deployment when that occured.
    My 2nd was my worst…55 lost out of 3500 and some of them were brutally tortured, beheaded and dragged through Baghdad.
    So sad for these and the others who have fallen, giving the ultimate sacrifice
    ….and now for silence

  • kevin gardner

    People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. George Orwell

    Rest In Piece brothers.

  • Luke

    Awesome book, awesome group of guys. As an American as well as Navy combat vet, I mourn their deaths and honor their lives.

  • Travis

    This weekend was the kickoff event in Houston, Texas of the lone survivor foundation. This is foundation was set up by Marcus and the boot campaign boot girls. The event was great good people, good times and awsome donations. There is still along way to go for their soldier rehab fac. though. I’m glad I was there when we found Marcus on that mountain and are friends still. He is deffinaitly making it count. If you are interested check out http://www.lonesurvivorfoundation.org they are also on face book. Also they should start filming of the movie the spring of 2011 directed by Peter Burg (the kingdom, hancock)


    Our thoughts are with the families, friends, and loved ones of our fallen warriors. God bless our SEALs and God help the enemies that they hunt…they’re going to need it.

  • Mike Fegely

    Awesome post Bryan.
    I read few books more than once, I don’t know how many times I’ve read “Lone Survivor”; and I’ve lent it out to as many people as will borrow it.
    This is as red, white, and blue a story as there is.
    God speed those who have given all for our liberty.
    Let us earn it.

  • madwest

    I was 18 when i first met a SEAL. A team was onboard my ship way back in the day. They stood apart and you knew to give them space. I remember thinking, heaven help anyone on the wrong side of these guys. That was many years before 9/11. I thank all who continue to serve.

  • Great book!
    I shed tears reading the story of those Warriors.

  • Nate Newcomb

    If youre a federal employee, like me, or currently on active duty, you can donate to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation when your agency does their annual CFC (Combined Federal Campaign) drive. You can select an amount and that amount is automatically donated straight from your paycheck for the year. That $10 or $20 you may donate a paycheck really adds up at the end of the year. I highly recommend folks who can to look into this.

  • Andrew

    This write up was right to the point. Very touching. I read his book, and it was something I just could not put down. I cant even begin to imagine the heartache he feels everyday for the loss of his brothers. Thanks Bryan for sharing your story about Marcus with him. Those guys are the definition of Patriots, and make me very proud to be an American.

  • Pingback: Remembering Operation Redwing | Personal Armament Podcast()

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