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Combat Art Articles

That Others May Live

  • Published

That Others May Live painting

lithograph      in the press link

Artist: Lt. Col. Warren Neary
Medium: Oil on Panel
Date: 2015

On 28 June 2005, Navy SEAL Team 10 came under heavy enemy attack. The team, which included Michael Murphy, Matthew Axelson, Daniel Dietz, and Marcus Luttrell, radioed for reinforcements. Soon thereafter, a four-ship of MH-47 Chinook helicopters departed as part of a Quick Reaction Force (QRF). On approach to insert the reinforcements, a rocket propelled grenade hit one of the MH-47s, causing it to crash and roll down a steep Afghan mountainside. All 16 members on board died in the crash. As a result of the crash, the SEAL team initiated their evasion plan while engaged in a running gun battle with Taliban forces. When the dust and smoke settled, only Luttrell remained alive.

Several days later, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Macrander and the rest of the men assigned to the 59th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron (305th Rescue Squadron deployed) received word that an Afghani village elder had made contact with a U.S. Marine Corps unit in the area. The elder had a written note from Marcus Luttrell, the lone surviving SEAL. The marines escorted the man to their nearby compound. Almost immediately, plans were put in motion for the helicopters to fly up and bring back this person of interest so that his claim could be verified.

The elder Afghani’s story proved to be factual and plans were put into place to recover a single SEAL from this man’s “village” (really a collection of mud huts carved out of the side of a terraced mountain slope). A pre-planned Combat Search and Rescue Task Force with a time-no-target soon developed. A Marine unit had taken up positions near the village as well.

Taking advantage of darkness and pre-coordinated fires on enemy positions just over the ridge from the landing zone, Macrander, piloting HALO 41, led his flight back into the area. HALO 42, piloted by Major Jeff “Spanky” Peterson, made a challenging landing in a very tight terraced field while Macrander and his crew provided top cover armed with 7.62 mini-guns. Immediately upon landing, two men dressed in Afghan robes approached the aircraft as PJs Josh Appel and Chris Piercecchi jumped out to intercept them. One man turned out to be Marcus Luttrell. The other man was his new found friend and rescuer, Mohammad Gulab. The two remained inseparable and both boarded HALO 42 together as it departed.