‘Harrowing’ is the type of word you’d use to describe the worst day you ever had, but it doesn’t even begin to sum up what Marcus Luttrell has been through.  Luttrell, the keynote speaker at the 4th Annual Dinner of the Fallen and Wounded Soldiers Fund, held May 2, 2009 at the Laurel Manor in Livonia, spent an hour before an audience hushed to numb silence sharing his initiation into the Navy SEALs and his first-hand experience with Operation Red Wing, a counter-insurgent mission in Kunar province, Afghanistan, on June 28, 2005.  Along with three fellow SEALS, the former Petty Officer First Class was dispatched to capture Taliban leader Ahmad Shah—and the subsequent battle changed his life.

No doubt, simply hearing the story changed the lives of many of the thousand patriots in the audience.

Sharing the difficult details of Luttrell’s experience would hardly compare to his own eloquence, which fills the pages of his book, Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 (Back Bay Books, 2006).
Receiving a standing ovation for his candor, sense of humor, and patriotism, Luttrell was embraced by Master of Ceremonies Chuck Gaidica, who then turned to the audience and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is why we are here tonight.”

Luttrell’s sacrifice, however consuming emotionally, was one of many throughout the Laurel Manor banquet room.  Other speakers included Larry Helser,  a three-time Purple Heart recipient from his service in Vietnam 1966-1968, and Corporal Richard Dibble who is still recovering from shrapnel he took in Iraq on March 22nd, 2007.   Among those not called upon to speak were countless war wounds, limps and scars evident to those of us who could only offer our heartfelt honor and respect.

The Fallen and Wounded Soldiers Fund was organized to help returning Michigan veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns who find themselves in need of support and assistance.  It is an all-volunteer organization with a diverse membership of concerned people from the business and private sectors. Additionally, the FWSF has created an educational fund for children of deceased Iraq and Afghanistan war heroes from Michigan.  42 children are in this program currently, and provisions have been made to expand the program as the need arises. The funds, incidentally, are held by Merrill-Lynch at no charge to the organization.

‘Support the troops’ is an often heard mantra, but on May 2, 2009, the Visionalist team was touched to see these words put into action.  Seeing first hand the result of America’s war against terrorism in the faces of those who have put in front-line efforts, is very much a reality check to those of us who are beneficiaries of their sacrifices, and too often, take them for granted. 



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