And he groped in his pocket for his mobile phone, the one we had dared not use because it would betray our position. And then Lieutenant Murphy walked out into the open ground. He walked until he was more or less in the center, gunfire all around him, and he sat on a small rock and began punching in the numbers to HQ. I could hear him talking. "My men are taking heavy fire...we're getting picked apart. My guys are dying out here...we need help." And right then Mikey took a bullet straight in the back.
(snip) Only I knew what Mikey had done. He'd understood we had only one realistic chance, and that was to call in help. He also knew there was only one place from which he could possibly make that cell phone work: out in the open, away from the cliff walls.
from Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell
If there is one book that I should have avoided like the plague before my son deployed to Iraq, it was Lone Survivor. This is the story of Navy Seal Team 10 and the survival and rescue of the lone surviving member of that team after meeting Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in 2005. I had intended to post about this book as soon as I finished reading it a couple of months ago but it was too fresh and my son might too soon be among some of those same enemy fighters. It was just too hard to think about then. Today as Lt. Michael Murphy, who is mentioned in the passage above, is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Bush, it is a fitting day to write my review of this book.
I must admit that I began crying before I finished reading the prologue. But I read the book with an open mind. The first half of the book felt as though I were watching a rerun of G.I. Jane as it describes the Navy SEAL training. Not boring, but not captivating either. I mean, after the first thousand push ups, you sort of get the idea that it was hard. I had even begun to get a little mad at the author for starting his book sounding so...happy...considering what he had been through. The first half of the book is very upbeat as he describes becoming a SEAL. After reading all of the things they have to endure, I began to wonder what kind of wimpy soldiers we must be producing if they could all go through this rigorous training only to be killed off by a couple of Taliban.
Half-way through the book, the real story began. As Marcus Luttrell describes the fire fight and how he and his three comrades fought off over FIFTY Taliban fighters, it quickly became apparent that I was one of those "foolish women" described so often in the bible. My idiot opinions before reading all the facts are embarrassing, if not downright retarded. What those four men went through on that beautiful mountainside is nothing if not heroic. And to realize that they fought off so many men armed with AK-47's and grenade launchers and still one of the SEALS survived, is absolutely jaw-dropping. The sheer numbers are astounding. This book should be required reading by every high school senior in this country so that they all understand just how valuable and precious our American soldiers are.
And while the description of the fire fight is almost heart-stopping (and will make a helluva scene in the movie) the best part of the book is the story of the Pashtun villagers who decide to protect the lone survivor with
"lokhay warkawal, an unbending section of historic Pashtun-walai tribal law as laid out in the hospitality section. The literal translation of lokhay warkawal is 'giving of a pot'. (snip)Lokhay means not only providing care and shelter, it means an unbreakable commitment to defend that wounded man to the death. And not just the death of the principal tribesman or family who made the original commitment for the giving of the pot. It means the whole damned village."
I came away from this book with a profound respect for these soldiers and a better understanding of the people of Afghanistan. This is a book another military mom might not have read but I am glad I did. Lt. Murphy is deserving of the Medal of Honor. It's a shame he is not alive to receive it.