Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell lived to tell the story of the failed mission in Afghanistan that claimed the lives of 19 of his fellow SEALs in 2005.
At the time, it was the largest loss of SEALs in one day since World War II. In 2006, Luttrell was awarded the Navy Cross for his heroic actions.
Luttrell, who will be portrayed by Mark Wahlberg in the upcoming Hollywood film Lone Survivor, was interviewed Sunday on 60 Minutes, posted above.
Here’s what you should know about this American hero and his inspiring story.
1. The Real-Life Lone Survivor, He Wrote a Memoir That Was Adapted Into a Movie
In his book, Lone Survivor, Luttrell chronicles what he remembers from his mission, Operation Red Wings, which was to capture Ahmad Shah, a high-level al-Qaeda operative. Besides losing the three men on the ground with him, Michael P. Murphy, Danny Dietz and Matthew Axelson, the 16 SEALs who came to their rescue in the air all perished as well.
After reading the book, director Peter Berg knew that he wanted to work on the film. Although there were many contenders, Luttrell selected Berg. To make the movie as accurate as possible, Luttrell arranged to have Berg travel with SEALs, and have the actors — Wahlberg, Emile Hirsch, Taylor Kitsch and Ben Foster, train with them.
In a sit-down with Heavy.com, when asked how they trained these Hollywood actors to show the camaraderie of the SEALs, Luttrell answered:
Basically we took them a month ahead of production and beat the snot out of them. That’s how you create a brotherhood, through blood, pain and sweat.
Another important part of preparing for the movie was having the actors meet the families of the fallen soldiers. The parents embraced the actors who played their sons on screen. “Danny’s mother’s Cindy calls me her adopted son now and his father, Danny Sr., says the same thing,” said Hirsch.
2.Mark Wahlberg Is ‘Inspired to Be a Better Man Because of Him’
Although Luttrell says he didn’t once consider who would portray his character on-screen, Berg’s first choice to play him was Wahlberg.
“I thought about everybody else, but the guy who was gonna play me,” Luttrell said.
What he was certain of, however, is that he did not want a leading man like Brad Pitt or Matt Damon in the role. The four actors needed to be of equal distinction, so that the audience would not immediately realize which soldier survives.
Wahlberg is the only actor who got to meet the man he was portraying, and Luttrell was there for him throughout the entire movie-making process.
3. Luttrell Was Rescued by an Afghan & They Became Friends
After the three-hour gunfight with the Taliban, Luttrell was putting dirt in his wounds so he wouldn’t bleed to death. He had been shot twice in the legs, had a broken back, and no medical gear, map, compass or pants on. Mohammad Gulab rescued him, keeping him protected and fed in his house for four days.
“We’re family. We’re brothers in blood,” said Luttrell.
Now Luttrell is returning the favor. According to the Daily Beast, Gulab is now living in California with his 10 children, not only assisted by Luttrell, but the book publishers and producers of the movie. The Taliban have said that Gulab, his family and other villagers who assisted Luttrell are now marked men. Gulab doesn’t regret what he did, even after the Taliban warned him that he would be killed and cites his tribal code of honor, Pashtunwali, as the reason he saved Luttrell.
4. Luttrell Thinks About His Fallen Brothers Every Day
Luttrell, whose family and friends opted out of viewing the movie, has watched the doomed mission play out on screen. Although one would think it too difficult for him to return to that day, he assures that it is much worse in his mind.
“It plays over in my head every day because I went through it in real life. So when I watched it on screen, I would say to myself, ‘Even though I remember that happening, I remember it being worse than that.’”
5. He Is Married With Two Children & Named His Son After His Fallen Brother
As a result of the ordeal, Luttrell, now 38, still endures surgery to this day. “The only reason I’m sitting here is because of modern medicine,” he said. “The fact that I made it off the mountain was pure luck and God intervention, and a little bit of skill.”
In 2010, Luttrell met his wife, Melanie. Luttrell named his son Axe, after his fallen brother Matt Axelson. In 2010 Marcus also started the Lone Survivor Foundation. The foundation, based in Houston, Texas, “restores, empowers, and renews hope for our wounded service members and their families through health, wellness, and therapeutic support.”