Since Operation Red Wings started becoming public, there has been an undercurrent within the military community and in the media questioning, to varying degrees, the truth behind HM1 (RET) Marcus Luttrell’s version of what really happened in the course of the operation. Over the years, and in a more concentrated manner recently, I have compiled all the publicly available information and analyzed the data repeatedly. This includes information available via public record; documented writings found in Luttrell’s book, “Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10;” and recorded versions of HM1 (RET) Marcus Luttrell’s narrative regarding Operation Redwing (sic).

NOTE: It’s Operation Red Wings, not Operation Redwing per the myriad incorrect references by HM1 (RET) Luttrell, including the title of his New York Times bestselling book, “Lone Survivor.”

This does not include the movie, only mentioned contextually here, which has little relation to what happened in the course of the operation; the techniques, tactics, and procedures (TTPs); or the conduct of Luttrell as a member of the United States Armed Forces in combat. Instead, my focus has been on the publicly available information where the primary focus lies on the myriad discrepancies between what Luttrell himself wrote and said in public: the recent direct quotations from Mohammad Gulab, the Pashtun civilian who, through extraordinary courage and at grave danger to himself and his extended family, saved Luttrell’s life; and the nonfiction writings of Ed Darack in “Victory Point,” the story of Operation Red Wings and the follow-on mission, Operation Whalers.

Darack embedded with the 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Marine Regiment shortly after both operations and directly spoke with many involved. I spoke extensively with Darack, as well as with Ross Schneiderman, whose recent Newsweek article, “Marcus Luttrell’s Savior, Mohammad Gulab, claims ‘Lone Survivor’ Got It Wrong,” brought forward exclusive new information; Michael Cummings, who wrote an article for Slate titled, “How Accurate Is Lone Survivor?” on Operation Red Wings, and is an ex-infantry officer who also served with 5th SFG(A) and has operated in the AO where Red Wings occurred; and John Ismay, an ex-Naval Special Operations officer who was lifelong friends with Erik Kristensen, Navy SEAL and QRF commander who was KIA along with 15 other SOF operators when their MH-47 was shot down during an attempted rescue.

John Ismay also interviewed actor Eric Bana, who portrayed John’s friend Erik in the “Lone Survivor” movie, for an article in the New York Times, “Seeing my friend depicted in ‘Lone Survivor.” Additionally, John provided exclusive information about Erik and an unreleased version of his entire interview with Bana, as well as information not available to the public surrounding the activities and aftermath of Operation Red Wings. These men all worked individually but toward the same goal of uncovering the truth about what happened beginning the night of 27 June 2005, when the team was inserted to conduct a special reconnaissance (SR) mission. The SR mission team members were:

  • Team leader Navy Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy of SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 (SDVT-1), based out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
  • Petty Officer Second Class Danny P. Dietz from SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 2 (SDVT-2), based out of Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Petty Officer Second Class Matthew G. Axelson from SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 (SDVT-1)
  • Navy Hospital Corpsman Second Class Marcus Luttrell of SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 (SDVT-1)

Based on the publicly available data outlined above and detailed in the following, it appears the United States Department of Defense and Department of the Navy have documented probable cause to recall HM1 (RET) Luttrell to active duty to conduct an Article 32 investigation for potential multiple offenses, including violation of Article 99 and other potential violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The table below defines Article 99, and the rationale for potential violations of these sections of Article 99 by HM1 (RET) Luttrell are outlined in detail based on documented information available on the public record. In addition to what is documented in this article, there is extensive additional, supporting information available. This is simply a summary:

Article 99 of the UCMJ – Misbehavior before the enemy.
“Enemy” defined
Organized forces in time of war or any hostile body, including civilians, that may oppose U.S. forces.
“Before the enemy” defined
A question of tactical relation, not of distance. A reasonable possibility of being called into action is sufficient.
Nine forms of the offense
Running away.
Shamefully abandoning, surrendering, or delivering up command, unit, place, ship, or military property.
Endangering safety.
Casting away arms or ammunition.
Cowardly conduct.
Quitting place of duty to plunder or pillage.
Causing false alarms.
Willfully failing to do utmost to encounter the enemy.
Failure to afford relief and assistance.

Published June 30, 2005