Saturday, October 6, 2012

Warfighting: Belief in Service

Review by Bill Doughty

Lt. Michael Murphy, Navy SEAL.
Michael P. Murphy, the Navy SEAL who fought and died in Operation Red Wings, is the namesake of the Navy’s newest guided-missile destroyer, USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), commissioned today in New York, not far from the 9/11 Memorial (#murph).  Lt. Michael Murphy was the first service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor since Vietnam.  His life and legacy personify service to others. 

At today’s commissioning ceremony Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus spoke about Murphy’s courage, selflessness and dedication to protecting his teammates and country.

The ordeal of Operation Red Wings (also referred to as Redwing) was chronicled in SEAL of Honor: Operation Red Wings and the Life of Michael P. Murphy, USN” by Gary Williams and in “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell.  Williams’s book is an essential book -- one of six in the Warfighting First section of the CNO’s Professional Reading Program.

Luttrell’s latest, “Service: A Navy SEAL at War” is a 2012 book about Navy SEALs that respects operational security and privacy.  It continues Luttrell’s own saga and his ongoing commitment to honoring the service of SEALs and their families.

This time, Luttrell teams up with gifted author James D. Hornfischer (“Neptune’s Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal,” “Ship of Ghosts,” and “The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors.  (“Neptune’s Inferno” is on the CNO’s essential list of Operate Forward titles).

The collaboration with Hornfischer results in a powerful, coherent reflection on the war in Iraq, focusing on “the teams’” battle for Ramadi in Anbar, Iraq and operations in Afghanistan.

Hornfischer told Navy Reads earlier this year, “The book follows the legendary SEAL back to war after Operation Redwing -- this time to Ramadi, Iraq, as SEAL Team 5 takes on Al Qaeda and other insurgents in the most violent city in the Middle East. Marcus gives tribute to all the warfighters who helped his teammates get the upper hand in 2006...”

Former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell at a book signing for "Service."
“Service,” filled with strong characters like Cowboy, Boss, Spanky, JT and Fizbo, presents personal stories of commitment and courage, including from family members -- strong women who are “warriors in their own right.”

“Service” reflects on Homer’s “Iliad” and, as in “Lone Survivor,” includes frequent references to the Bible and faith.

Luttrell writes:

“Service is selflessness -- the opposite of the lifestyle that we see so much of in America today.  The things that entertain us don’t often lift us up, or show us as the people we can rise up to become.  he people who appear in this book -- and others who did things I can’t talk about -- are my role models.  They quietly live out the idea expressed in the Bible (John 15:13): ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’  But you don’t have to be a Christian, or even particularly religious, to serve... You look after others and put their welfare ahead of your own.”

Hornfischer and Luttrell’s “Service: A Navy SEAL at War” is a powerful read, especially today, Oct. 6, as the Navy remembers and honors Lt. Michael P. Murphy in New York.  The book not only recounts warfighting but also reflects on why Sailors and their families serve.
USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112). Photo by U.S. Coast Guard PO2 Erik Swanson

The book’s dust cover sums up this concept:  “A thrilling war story, Service is also a profoundly moving tribute to the warrior brotherhood, to the belief that nobody goes it alone and no one will be left behind.”

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