Author of "Lone Survivor," former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell actually endured more physical assaults than were portrayed by Mark Wahlberg, who played him in the recently released movie. Mr. Luttrell was part of the four-man SEAL Team 10 sent into the mountains of Afghanistan to capture or kill a Taliban leader in 2005.
The mission, Operation Red Wings, was compromised when the team was discovered by goat herders. The team did the humanitarian thing and let the herders go, but within the hour they were ambushed by dozens of Taliban fighters. They killed all but Mr. Luttrell, who was badly wounded and walked or crawled seven miles to safety. An Afghan villager hid him from the Taliban under threat of death for himself and his family. They remain friends to this day. Mr. Luttrell returned for one more tour of duty before being discharged.
Mr. Luttrell, who received the Navy Cross and Purple Heart, lives in Houston with his wife and children and has written a second book, "Service." He also has a therapy dog, Rigby, to help him deal with the emotional trauma of his injuries.
He will be at the Byham Theater for the Patriot Tour, 7:30 p.m. March 19. Details and tickets: www.patriottour.com.
What was the most striking change or adjustment you have had to make in your life since the movie came out?
Let's see. I'm not really out in the public that much, ma'am. I mean, I don't hang myself out there or anything, so it's not the popularity or the people recognize me or anything. Granted, there are thousands and thousands of people who I guess know my name now. For the most part I'm a pretty humble guy. I'm back on my ranch with my family, so I don't get that very much.
You have said that SEAL training basically saved your life, but is there anything you would change or add having been in combat and knowing what you know now?
No, ma'am, absolutely not. I am kind of a realist. I know you can't go back and do that, so I don't ever waste time thinking about. I mean, every situation I have ever been in I have been trained for, and I dealt with it to the best of my abilities.
I'm curious, how do they put together a SEAL team?
That's way above my pay grade ma'am. You just do what you are told.
How do you feel about all the attention your story is getting?
Humbled, sure, I mean, absolutely humbled. I never thought in a million years that this thing would have grown the way it did and reached as many people as it did.
Did someone suggest you write your story or was it your idea?
The Navy. It was the Navy's idea, not mine. I was in the hospital doing therapy trying to finish my work to go back overseas to the war again. They were, "Hey, we're declassifying the op. We need you to sit down and write it out." It wasn't my idea.
I am surprised they let you go back to fight. So was it therapeutic for you to go back into battle?
I wouldn't say that. It was just my job.
If they had told you no, would that have been worse?
That would have been pretty upsetting. It's my job. It's what I do for a living. It's what I love to do. It is what I was born to do. So if they tell you, you can't do that, sure you're going to get upset.
I know it's your job, but what does being a warrior mean to you?
It's a way of life. It's the way I was born and raised. It's honor, commitment, the fight, the rush, the adrenaline. The overall thing is being next to my brothers.
Is your twin brother still in the SEALS, and is the rest of your family military?
Yes ma'am [he is]. My dad, my grandfather, my great-grandfathers, my uncles [were all in the military].
Tell me this: Is the fear of dying trained out of you or something you don't consider?
It's in the back of your head all the time, but you kind of write that check when you first get in and make peace with dying. If it does happen, you pray for it to be quick and you are standing on your feet with your boots on and a pile of brass, so to speak.
Can you tell me about your service dog and how you came to have one?
I got my service dog when I was medically retired out of the military, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I wish every medically retired serviceman could have a service dog. He's amazing. He's my best bud. I go everywhere and anywhere with him. He is with me 24/7. We have been partners for six years.
You have told your story over and over and now you are doing the Patriot Tour, which I understand was your idea, so you will have to continue to talk about your story.
Well, it's me and other military veterans, my teammates and a bunch of other guys from other branches of the service. We got together and started to travel around the country and tell our stories to the American public. It's open to the public. It's not a recruitment thing or in your face or anything like that. It's motivational. I mean, if you think my story is crazy, you should hear these guys. Everything they've been through is amazing.
So the book, the movie and now this tour is giving civilians a chance to understand what you go through as soldiers. Is that accurate?
Yes ma'am. It started out as an idea for us just to be able get back together and see each other and travel around a little bit. It morphed into what you just said. So it is a win-win for everybody.
Does the money raised go to your foundation?
We raise awareness. Every member on the tour has their own foundation and charity, so each guy can do whatever they want with the money that is brought in.
Why did you write the second book, "Service?"
"Service" is just a follow-up to "Lone Survivor." It fills in a lot of the holes that were left open from the first book that I didn't know about. Questions were answered.
Patricia Sheridan: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2613. Follow her on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/pasheridan.