SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Hundreds of attendees from near and far gathered in South Plainfield on Monday evening for PBA Local 100’s sponsored event with Marcus Luttrell, a former member of Navy SEAL Team 10 and the author of the bestselling book Lone Survivor.
During the event, which took place at South Plainfield High School, Luttrell held a book signing before taking the stage for an hour-long talk in which he shared intimate stories about his childhood, personal life, what it was like to go through SEALS training, the bond formed by those who make it through, and the day that forever changed his life. Close to 500 people were in attendance, including men, women, and children as well as current and retired members of law enforcement and the Armed Forces, some who traveled from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York to attend.
Luttrell explained, in detail, the events of June 28 2005. He discussed how he and three fellow members of SEAL Team 10 were assigned to Operation Red Wing, a mission to kill or capture Ahmad Shah (a.k.a. Mohammad Ismail), a high-ranking Taliban leader. He discussed what went down after the SEALS were spotted by a group of unarmed goat herders who, after being released, betrayed the team’s location. Enemy forces soon attacked and an intense three-hour gun battle ensued with Luttrell the lone survivor.
Luttrell discussed how he’d lost most of his clothing in the battle but still held onto his gun and told the audience that he although seriously inured he walked and crawled for miles to evade capture. He talked about the Afghan tribe who provided him shelter and kept him safe, moving him from place to place over the six days it took for American forces to rescue him.
“A lot of people call me a hero; hero stands for ‘humanity is ever revolving’… I did what I was trained to do…” said Luttrell, who after surviving Operation Red Wing went on to serve in Afghanistan, completing one more tour before retiring.
“I was never the strongest, the fastest, the smartest guy… Whatever you hear come out of my mouth today, I went through it. I’ve been shot, stabbed, drowned, tortured… That was a time of my life,” Luttrell told the audience, noting that things are different now that he is married and a father. “Now, I’m married and got kids… I jammed my toe the other day and cried for a week; step on a Lego it’s over.”
In 2007, Luttrell published his accounts of him and his team in the bestselling book Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 and, in 2012,published Service, which follows up unanswered questions from Lone Survivor and gives honor and praise to other members of the military. In 2010, he established the Lone Survivor Foundation and is fully involved with The Boot Campaign. Additionally, in 2014, the major motion picture Lone Survivor starring Mark Walberg was released.
“I just want to personally thank you for the life you guys have blessed me with,” Luttrell, who currently spends 300 days a year sharing his story with others throughout the country, said. “I truly don’t have the vocabulary to express it, and I mean each and everyone of you…”
“I attended to hear Luttrell speak about what he needed to do to survive in Afghanistan after his buddies were killed and how he coped after that event. I thought his talk,” said Detective Albert Dominzi of the North Plainfield Police Department, who attended with several colleagues.
“He is an American hero. His story is phenomenal and the epitome of never give up, never quit, and very inspirational,” said Joe Blondo, a history teacher from South Plainfield Middle School who attended the event. “What his team went through and what he personally went through is the most inspirational story you could hear.”
“I want to thank the members of the PBA and the people who showed up. We really appreciate the support and hope they enjoyed hearing Mr. Luttrell’s story,” said event organizer Lloyd McNelly, a member and past president of PBA Local 100 and sergeant with the South Plainfield Police Department. “Everything went well considering we never held an event like this before and we look forward to doing something again in the future.”
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