Navy SEAL recounts Iraq war in new book

Navy SEAL recounts a gripping tale of sacrifice in new book, "Service: A Navy SEAL at Work"


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 18, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY: "Personal Story" segment tonight, you may know the name Marcus Luttrell. He's the Navy SEAL who wrote the big best-seller, "Long Survivor," which chronicled the brutal shootout in Afghanistan.

Well, now Mr. Luttrell has a new book called "Service: A Navy SEAL at War." It's about Iraq. He joins from us Dallas tonight.

First of all, what did you do in Iraq, Marcus?

MARCUS LUTTRELL, RETIRED NAVY SEAL: Business as usual. Our primary mission in Iraq was to disrupt, eliminate enemy activity.

O'REILLY: Well, you've got to tell us. You've got to take us there. Because most people will never, ever be on a battlefield. They'll never do what you did. So you're trying to disrupt. What does that mean?

LUTTRELL: You know, fighting in the city is a lot different from fighting in the mountains, because every -- behind every corner, every window is a fighting position. And basically, we're in the enemy's backyard. And front yard, for that matter. So you know, urban combat is - - is -- in my opinion, it was a lot crazier than up in the mountains. But...

O'REILLY: Now, did you have to go -- did you have to go into situations where you didn't know -- yes, in the mountains you know where the enemy is. They're shooting at you in the caves. But you got to -- you've got to kind of distinguish who the bad guys are from the civilians because of all of that stuff. That's a tremendous amount of pressure, right?

LUTTRELL: It's tough with the collateral damage, the women, the kids. You know, because they intermingle in between them all the time. I mean, it's not like they push them aside when they know a battle is going to go down. They bring them in.

So that's one of the things that we have to contend with. And that makes it a lot more difficult, actually.

O'REILLY: Now, a lot of people coming back from both Afghanistan and Iraq. A lot of service people, very, very well-trained service people having trouble adjusting back here in the United States. Did you have any trouble coming back?

LUTTRELL: I did in the beginning. You know, it was -- the hardest part for me was getting out. I mean, they -- I got cut from everything that I knew, you know, that lifestyle that I had been -- you know, I had been training for since I was a kid. And being around those guys, and all of a sudden it's over with. I get tossed out into the -- into the civilian world, which is not a bad thing. I mean, it's not that -- I'm not ignorant, you know,. I mean, I can figure things out.

But when you go from a pace like that, and then it kind of -- it goes from 100 miles per hour to nothing. You're just kind of sitting there with your head spinning, trying to figure out, you know, what to do and where to do it. So, it's -- it's causing a lot of problems for a lot of guys, I would imagine. You know, a good thing about it...

O'REILLY: The -- the rate is 41 percent post-traumatic stress syndrome of people coming back from the battlefield. That's an enormous -- and I think we had that in Vietnam, as well. That they didn't diagnose it as well back then. That's -- that's an enormous problem, is it not?

LUTTRELL: I think it is. I mean, I didn't think the wars -- a lot of people probably didn't anticipate that the wars were going to last this long. I mean, you've got 18-, 19-, 20-year-old kids who join the military for a college education. And next thing you know they're sitting in there for 10 years fighting a war. So I think that might have -- have something to do with it.

I mean, I will say this, though. I mean, you've got to -- one of the things that happened to me is that I got away from all the people who were telling me that I had a problem. You know, I mean, if you sit around and listen to people telling you, you know, "You're messed up. You know, this is -- what's wrong with this, that, and the other," I mean, that stuff starts to get to you.

You know, I completely shifted focus on my end and put my focus into my family and into what I was doing today to kind of help me push through what I was dealing with.

And I'm not going to say that I -- I got over it 100 percent, yes. But when I have problems, you know, I talk to the guys that I was over there with. You know, we talk back and forth. And maybe they know something that I didn't know. How they solve, you know, their issues, and it kind of works itself out.

But, yes, I mean, that's a -- that's a pretty high ratio. You know.

O'REILLY: There are a lot of people suffering. But I think you just gave them some good advice. You know, try to get away from the naysayers, the ones that, you know, "you're doing this." And try to get in with your guys, develop a network of support, which is what they do in AA and a lot of other things.

Last question, real quick.

LUTTRELL: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: When you were training the Navy SEALs, I mean, they train you to be a warrior and they train you to be as effective as possible in the battlefield. Do they ever say to you, "Hey, it's all going to be over some day, and when it's over you're going to have to take certain steps to decompress"? Do they give you any of that at all?

LUTTRELL: Absolutely. I mean, they -- they do a really good job with us. I mean, I was kind of a different case.

But for the most part, when we -- after we train up, we go out, we come back, we go out, we come back, there's a big decompression time. A time for us to kind of -- to come down off the high and -- and turn everything back around before they kind of release us into the wild.

So that's one of the things that's different between our community and a lot of the other conventional forces.

O'REILLY: All right. The book is "Service: A Navy SEAL at War."

Marcus, thanks very much, as always.

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