Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

UA Ph.D. candidate knew ‘Lone Survivor’ soldiers

Three American soldiers died on June 25, 2005, one of the worst days in U.S. special operations history. The events of that day were documented in the movie “Lone Survivor,” based on a book written by Marcus Luttrell.

Luttrell was a member of SEAL Team 10. Luttrell and three other SEALs went on a two-day mission to kill a Taliban leader, but only Luttrell made it out alive.

Ben Woodruff, a finance Ph.D. candidate at the University of Alabama, had the privilege of knowing Luttrell and Michael Murphy, another SEAL on the mission. Woodruff said Murphy was the best man he ever knew.

What is your military background?

I was enlisted in the Navy from the early ’90s to 2002, and I was in the Naval Special Warfare Intelligence Division. I worked with SEAL Team 8 and Seal Delivery Vehicle 1.

How did you get connected with Murphy and Luttrell?

Lieutenant Murphy and Marcus [Luttrell] were part of SDV 1. Axe was also on Team 1, but he got there after I left, so I never met him. I was there from 1998 to 2002.

You haven’t seen the movie yet, but is there anything you can tell me about the guys?

I haven’t seen the movie, but I’ll tell you this: Michael Murphy is the greatest guy I ever knew. He was the most selfless person. He was very driven. He was demanding, but he was driven and always expected the best, and he would expect that of himself as well. He would push himself and expect you to do the same.

Murphy was killed because he was making a satellite call due to communication errors. Does that show what kind of person he was?

That speaks to his selflessness. He knew he was going to be killed, and he goes and does that anyway.

How has Luttrell dealt with this tragedy?

He obviously has a lot of survivor guilt. That’s going to happen, I guess. I know he’s been very open that the hardest thing for him was going to the families of everyone else and just saying “I’m really, really sorry.” He got to tell them what happened and what they did. He has a Lone Survivor foundation, and that’s one thing he does and pours himself into that. It helps him a lot.

What can people not in the military do to help the soldiers risking their lives?

I always wanted people to appreciate what they have. It reminds me of an old Ronald Reagan quote: “A lot of people wonder if their lives matter. Marines don’t have that problem.” Find something you really care about and work on that as much as you can. Don’t fail to appreciate this life that you have. We have so many opportunities on this college campus. Don’t let the just day-to-day keep you going. Find what drives you.

Woodruff wanted to make clear that these men are his heroes and he was honored to know them. For more information on the Lone Survivor foundation, visit

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