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Review & Interview: Marcus Luttrell's "Service: A Navy SEAL at War"

The following interview is a special for BlackFive readers by Elise Cooper:

ServiceService, written by Marcus Luttrell with James D. Hornfischer, is a compelling follow-up book to Lone Survivor.  It is both a war story and a moving tribute to all who served. did a short interview with him.

Q:  You make the same statement in your book that Chris Kyle made in his book American Sniper, that the Iraqi local’s job is to take back their country?

Luttrell: The locals are the key.  You can’t kill bad guys all day long because others will take their place.  Eventually we have to let go of the reins and let them take control.  We can’t be watching their backs and dictating everything they should do, that is not getting them anywhere. 

Q:  There is a great quote in your book about Iraq:  “Yet, confronted with a grim outlook and an impossible problem, what does our military do? We wade right into the middle of it and tell the enemy to bring it on.  What other option was there? Quit?  Politicians may go that route but our military forces don’t.” Can you elaborate?

Luttrell:  What really upsets me are the anti-war organizations like Code Pink.  Remember, it was our elected officials who sent us over there, BUT we were sent to do a job and we NEED to make sure it was done right.  Americans should understand stuff like what Code Pink says does affect us. We look back home and think our country doesn’t support us.  Its very upsetting and something I can never understand.

Q:  In the book you give a number of instances when the Iraqi people worked with the Americans.  Because of loss of life and property, that women and children were killed, there was the view to work with the American military.

Luttrell:  The bad guys were the ones saying kick the Americans out.  A good example is when we went into a house while doing an operation.  This family consisted of a husband, a wife, four boys and three girls.  The husband and all the boys were slaughtered.  She said she had to watch her family executed. She wanted us to know she was thankful for our help and told us not to leave.

Q:  A very heartfelt chapter was about the “Warrior Queens.”  Why did you put it in the book?

Luttrell:  The spouses of military personnel have to deal with stuff while we are in combat and when we come home they have to deal with us.  Who are you going to vent to but your wife? One story is very touching because it is from a spouse who lost her husband in combat and she was pregnant when her husband died.

Q:  You mention in Service that going on missions in “a hellhole like Ramadi wasn’t good for your life expectancy.”  What about Afghanistan, can the Taliban be defeated?

Luttrell:  I don’t think so but they can be weakened.  They are always fighting someone:  Alexander The Great, the Russians, now us.  The reason the Taliban will always hate us and want to kill us is because of the way we live our lives.  They have a different way of looking on life.  None of us would kill our son to make him a martyr.  We need to make sure we never lower our standards in fighting them.

Q:  In both books you talk about being a SEAL.  Can you briefly explain what that means to you?

Luttrell: We are a team.  You know those guys will die for you and that you will do the same for them.  When the overall goal is to live or die that creates a bond that is tighter than anything you will ever find anywhere.  That can never be replaced.

Q:  Is a movie going to be made about Lone Survivor?

Luttrell:  We will start shooting this September.  It will star Mark Wahlberg who I spoke to a couple of times by phone.  I want to make sure that the movie is true to the book.  Most people get their information from movies and TV and don’t read so I want to make sure this movie is as realistic as possible.

Thank you for writing Service. It informs Americans about the heroes who fought and made sacrifices in the War on Terror.