In "Service," Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell pays homage to those who stand up for the United States and sometimes die for the privilege. Here's an excerpt.
I’ve written this book to honor the skill, courage, and sacrifice of the exceptional people I know who serve not only in the SEAL teams but in all the other service branches who I’ve served with along the way. Really this is a book for all who serve. It’s for anyone who wears the uniform; who, when the shooting starts, move toward the gunfire instead of away from it. It’s for a brave breed of individuals, the warfighters, who put everything on the line because it is expected of them, because they stand up for the United States and sometimes die for the privilege.
There are a lot of things in life that matter. But nothing matters as much as who or what you decide to serve.
The people I write about in this book devoted themselves to something larger than themselves. Driven by a fire that burns within them to defend their brothers, their sisters, their neighbors, and their nation, they volunteered to stand in a dangerous place in the world and offer themselves as expendable.
In my years in uniform, I was one of the lucky ones. My pride in serving in the SEAL teams has enabled me to look at myself in the mirror every morning, after everything that’s happened.
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I decided to write Service when I thought about all the selfless, brave souls I knew whose work “downrange” crossed paths with mine. In these pages, you’ll get a glimpse of our elite special operations warriors who occasionally make headlines but strongly prefer to remain anonymous, quiet professionals. And you’ll hear about warriors from other branches of the military whose service means something to me. By the end of the book, you’ll see that we all share at least one trait in common: an ability to get back up and keep pushing forward, through war, through pain, and back into civilian life, where our service to our families and our communities is just as important as anything we did in uniform.
I was one of those quiet professionals. It was my fate to come out of the shadows. I wrote Lone Survivor to honor three of my brothers who went into battle with me one afternoon in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, and didn’t come home, and sixteen of America’s best who died on a helicopter, flying into hell to save us. Since then, sadly, that mission can no longer lay claim to being the darkest day in the history of the special operations world. The bad days keep coming. On August 6, 2011, we lost thirty of our most elite. None of us will ever forget our losses.Video: Navy Seal: ‘I died on that mountain’ (on this page)
On the afternoon on June 28, 2005, I awoke to find myself alone, hidden in a crevice near the peak of the mountain known as Sawtalo Sar, after three of my teammates had been killed in action and the helicopter carrying the rescue team, unbeknownst to me, had been lost in action as well. I lost a little bit of myself out there. In failing in a task, in meeting a serious setback or a defeat on a mission or in our careers, we come out the other side changed. If we don’t, we’ve failed again. But long before that doomed operation, I had learned that part of my strength came from never letting a single experience in my life define me. I believe that there is a reason for everything. The situations I’ve found myself in are stepping-stones on a path to a larger and unknowable destination. I now have a wife and a son, so many glorious blessings. But this remains the same: after every step, even the missed ones, I’ll pack up, push through, and soldier on. I can only hope to do this because I have a family who loves me. Some are family by blood. Others are family in blood, men who won the honor of wearing the Trident, and who as teammates proved the truth of the saying, “The only easy day was yesterday.” Many members of my family live, breathe, and work in dangerous, undisclosed locations all around the world. Some of them are no longer with us, having paid the ultimate price while doing their work, and in death still stand watch over us. They pledged themselves to that job and gave their last full measure to fulfill the pledge. Our family stays together not by training, courage, or skill but by the forces that bind us: love, honor, commitment, and loyalty.
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This book is a salute to everyone who’s worn Old Glory on his shoulder, carried a rifle for this nation, and guarded the front line or been deployed behind it, into the enemy’s backyard — whether in today’s wars or in others. Too many heroes never get the recognition they deserve from the public. I am proud to be able to share a few of their stories from my own perspective. Since I wrote Lone Survivor, my personal story has become very public and I have felt strongly ever since that many others out there deserve to have their own service recognized. Service in wartime pushed them to the limit. They gave their all —and got something back that no one else can claim: collectively, they form a single thread woven into the fabric of this country’s history, part of something larger than themselves. There are other things in life that matter. But to me, nothing matters as much.
Excerpted from SERVICE by Marcus Luttrell with James D. Hornfischer. Copyright © 2012 by ST5 LLC. Excerpted by permission of Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive