On the morning of June 28th, 2005, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, a small, four-man team of Naval Special Warfare operators under the command of Lieutenant Michael Murphy was compromised. There are two types of compromise, soft and hard. A soft compromise is essentially that a unit’s mission was exposed but there is no enemy fire exchanged. A hard compromise is the opposite of this. If you’ve read Lone Survivor (or seen the movie), you understand that the goat herder’s were the first “soft compromise”, and this led to a “hard compromise”, and a satellite phone call that would end a life.

Only a little while after informing the Joint Operations Center of their compromise, Lt Murphy called the JOC by satellite phone to inform them that the team, consisting of himself, HM2 Marcus Luttrell, GM2 Danny Dietz, and STG2 Matthew Axelson, was under heavy fire and required the Quick Reaction Force (QRF). A QRF team is always on standby in these situations. That was the last anyone in the rear heard from the team.

Marcus Luttrell has already told the story about what happened on that mountain. Some have called his account into question, but the indisputable fact is that he is the only one alive who knows what really happened there. No one who wasn’t there is in any position to say for certain what did or did not happen to him or his team. This is not the story of the compromise and firefight. This is the story of the effort to rescue him and retrieve the bodies of his comrades. It is the story of the largest Combat Rescue operation in the war up to that time, and the largest loss of life in US SOF prior to the downing of Extortion 17 in 2011.

All times are given in Zulu time. Local Afghan time is 4 hours, 30 minutes ahead.

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