I’m finishing up a couple articles on Marcus Luttrell and Lone Survivor to share my perspective as his sniper instructor. I’m also – with a lump in my throat – heading out to see Lone Survivor the movie so that I can break down some of the gear and tactics for The Loadout Room. I’ve resisted thus far because I don’t do well in such movies. Too many lost brothers.
Some of you might have read the below piece I originally posted on SOFREP back in September, but if you haven’t, or if it’s been a while, it provides good insight to how I think about it all and will set background for my next posts. Please make sure you share it with as many people as you can as these stories are important to remember.
As posted in SOFREP Sep 8, 2013
They didn’t want anyone to say anything to you, but a few years ago 19 men quietly died for America. You never knew about them because they loved you so much that they didn’t even want you to know you were in danger. Nobody said anything to you because they didn’t want you to bear the burden of knowing they gave their life for you. You might remember some of the stories in the news, but you wouldn’t have realized that they were about you and your family. That’s how they wanted it.
These guys that did this for us, as well as the ones who have taken their place since, will be upset with me for telling you any of this. As I said, these are amazing people who would give their life just so we didn’t have to concern ourselves with matters such as these. I’m going to say something anyways, because I’m afraid if I don’t we’re going to run out of people like them. People who engage in the things we’re afraid to. People who stand up and say “I’ll Go” so that our sons and daughters don’t have to.
How many more special strangers like this are there who would do this for America? How many people will volunteer to leave their own family behind so that we get to see ours everyday and go on about our life as if nothing was happening? To be honest, I find it amazing that people like this even exist. I know they’re still out there, but eventually, if we keep ignoring them, we may find that one day they’ll all be gone.
Before I introduce you to these men, I’m going to take a moment here to help you better understand how truly special to you they are. I’d like to invite you to briefly step into their shoes.
Imagine you and your family sitting in a football stadium with 25,000 other families who you have never met. You’re getting ready to have a great day with the ones you love. As you’re returning from a trip to the concessions stand government agents approach you. They tell you that attackers are approaching the stadium and they need help stopping them.
Thinking about your own safety, you ask them “Is it going to be dangerous?” They say “Yes, in fact you could die.”
Thinking that you’re going to need help, you ask them “Do you have enough volunteers?” They say “No. Most people weren’t going to worry about it unless the attackers got into the stadium.”
Thinking about your family, you ask them “If anything happens to me will my family at least be financially taken care of? They say not really.
Thinking about the greater good, you ask them “Where do you need me?”
You tell your family that they will have to watch the game without you. You and a few others go to ward off the attackers while everyone keeps going about their business of having fun. Unfortunately, you and a few other volunteers don’t make it back.
The government agents tell your family the bad news and, besides the few people that were sitting next to you, the rest of the stadium has no idea. Yes it was announced on the teleprompter; but most of the people were too busy watching the game or trying to shake down the hot dog guy to really notice what just happened.
The game ends as these things do. Tens of thousands of people that you just gave your life for, blindly move toward their cars, bumping into your family as they scramble to return to their daily routine. Laughing and talking about weekend plans, muttering and even complaining about the politics that threatened to ruin their enjoyment of the game. A little entitled? Sure. But free to choose whether to pay attention or not. Free to go about their lives as if nothing happened. Free to walk past your family without so much as a nod. Free to forget. Just how you wanted it.
So I’m going to introduce you to these men. Not so you can thank them, but to give you the opportunity to demonstrate how much you value those who would put others before themselves. So that you can spread the word, share this post, and inspire the others who would volunteer to go so that no one would ever have to go by force.
On June 28, 2005 during Operation Red Wings, 11 Navy SEALs and 8 Army Night Stalkers gave their lives for us.
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.
Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny P. Dietz, 25, of Littleton, Colo.
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.
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.
Master Sgt. James W. Ponder III, 36, of Franklin, Tenn.
19 of your personal warriors said “Where do you need me?” and 19 of these warriors gave their lives for us and our families. They stood up and left their families because they knew that no one else could. On June 28, 2005 they gave not just their lives, but also the lives of their families. For the families left behind, things didn’t end on June 28th, 2005. Things just began.
True to form, their families have continued the mission. Quietly, and without complaint, they keep going. Without judgement or interference, they protect the freedom of those around them by continuing on. They make sure others remain free to forget if they choose. They continue the plight of quiet professionals doing their duty, not out of obligation, but out of love. The ultimate expression of freedom.
Soon, the movie Lone Survivor will be out and the stories of these men will be told again. We live in a new age of information where everyday you’re given the opportunity to vote. You’re given the opportunity to remember these men, not because you should remember them because it’s the right thing to do, but because we need the best and the brightest keeping us safe.
Look them up, learn about them. Click on the memorial sites dedicated to them. Watch the movies made about them, and find a way to thank every one they left behind. Make sure the world knows that they mean more to us than some spoiled pop star stripping on TV. Make sure everyone knows that when 1 goes down, 10 more will step up. Let it be heard that we will never give up, never tire and never waiver in our commitment to the men and women who fight evil for freedom and peace in the world.
(Featured Image Courtesy: DVIDS)