By Anja Crowder
It was a Navy SEALs mission gone terribly wrong. One evening in June 2005, four Navy SEALs were sent on a mission to track down Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. As they moved up a mountain in Afghanistan, they were surprised by 3 goat herders. The mission was compromised.
“The area that we were in was so dense and the mountains that were rolling– it was just– [communications] were just intermittent. So we had to move up or down,” Marcus Luttrell, one of the four SEALs, told ABC’s Bob Woodruff in an interview for ‘This Week.”
The SEALs had to make a decision: should they let the herders go, knowing they might alert the enemy to their location, or should they kill them?
As for the rules of engagement, Luttrell says “it changes” depending on the mission, giving them no clear guidance on how to proceed.
The SEALs voted to let the herders go. Within an hour they were surrounded by the men they were looking for, a Taliban group led by Ahmad Shah.
The special operations chopper that flew in to rescue them was shot down. Luttrell’s SEAL brothers, Danny Dietz, Matt Axelson and Mike Murphy were all killed. They were three of 19 U.S. service members lost that day.
Luttrell, the lone survivor of the mission, was left gravely wounded.
Then something unlikely happened. Muhammed Gulab, a local villager, rescued Luttrell. Gulab brought Luttrell into his home, caring for him and refusing to hand him over to the Taliban despite the death threats.
“It’s definitely a blood debt. I mean, I owe him my life,” Luttrell said of Gulab.
Two years later Luttrell wrote a book about his story called “Lone Survivor,” which film director Peter Berg has turned into a major motion picture, now in nationwide release. For Berg, Luttrell’s story is not about politics, it’s about honor.
“I thought Marcus did an extraordinary job of giving me the opportunity to pay respect and acknowledge the sacrifice that these men are making,” Berg told ABC’s Woodruff.
In the film, Mark Wahlberg plays officer Luttrell. He said the experience of playing Luttrell was inspirational.
“It’s the first time that it wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about my experience. It wasn’t about my growth as an actor. I just think about what Marcus and those guys went through.” Wahlberg said to Woodruff.
Though this film wasn’t about him as an actor, it has had an impact on him as a person.
“I’m inspired by him to be a better man,” Wahlberg told Woodruff.
“You know, people talk about, honorable men. That’s honor, you know, what [Gulab] did in risking his life and his village and his children to save a complete stranger. How do you do that? How do you do that? And I never was privileged to see until I went to Afghanistan that there are a lot of amazing people over there they are also at war with the Taliban,” Wahlberg said.
Reflecting on the experience of creating the film, Berg called “Lone Survivor” “by far the most satisfying film I’ve ever been involved with.”
Wahlberg described to Woodruff the effect making the film had on him.
“This experience had a huge impact on me. And, you know, I don’t like war. But I love soldiers and I love what Marcus did,” Wahlberg said. “Really glad that he did what he did so I could sit here next to this man to be a part of telling the story of all the men that did not come home.”