"SERVICE: A Navy Seal At War," by Marcus Luttrell with James D. Hornfischer, Little, Brown, $27.99, 362 pages (nf)
In 2005, Marcus Luttrell was part of a SEAL team that set out to kill or capture a senior Taliban leader in Afghanistan. Betrayed by goat herders they'd showed mercy to, Operation Redwing came under heavy fire. All but Luttrell were killed, including a 16-man rescue team that was helicoptering in to save him. That story was told in his best-selling book "Lone Survivor."
A second helicopter team finally managed to extract Luttrell in dangerous conditions, piloted by Major Jeff "Spanky" Peterson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a returned missionary and alumnus of Brigham Young University. At the time of this nearly impossible midnight mission, Peterson's wife and four young boys were praying for him at home in Arizona.
In his follow-up book, "Service: A Navy SEAL at War," Luttrell gives more details about that star-crossed mission, its aftermath, and how he dealt with the sorrow — by going back into service with the SEALs in the then most dangerous city on earth, Ramadi, Iraq. Most of the book is written in conversational style, packed full of terse, quick-paced descriptions, military jargon and acronyms and at times harsh language.
The narrative bounces around in time, from Luttrell's recovery from the tragic Operation Redwing to his new deployment in Iraq to training for the SEALs and back again. He includes lengthy description of the loss and funeral of one of his brothers-in-arms and a section on his training as a diver.
He also has first-hand accounts by Navy SEAL wives and widows as they discuss the challenges of being married to a member of a special ops team. Luttrell states that upward of 80-percent of such marriages end in divorce because they are unable to take the strain of separation, anxiety and loneliness.
In spite of all the sorrow and horror of war, he reiterates that faith in his teammates and in God carried him through his most difficult times. Throughout the book, he describes the intense feeling of brotherhood and loyalty that drives men like him to give everything to protect each other and the nation.
More information about Luttrell's is on his website at www.marcusluttrell.com.