By Chris Sasser
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
The 35th Texas Aviation Conference had a big task this year in following Captain Gene Cernan, the last man on the moon, and keynote speaker from last year’s conference. Former U.S. Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell though held the rapt audience with his harrowing tale of survival.
Luttrell co-authored the New York Times bestseller Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Red Wing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team Ten. A film version, starring Mark Wahlberg, was released in 2013.
During his speech, Luttrell spoke of his family and background that lead to him becoming a Navy SEAL. He then spoke of Operation Red Wing and during the emotional talk explained the bond he had with his comrades and coming home to talk to their families.
“I wanted them to hear from me what happened to their sons,” said Luttrell. “I was only going to tell their story once, and they needed to hear from me when and where their son was when they were killed.”
In 2007, Luttrell was medically discharged from the Navy and is now married with two kids.
“We were very pleased to have Marcus Luttrell as our keynote at this year’s conference,” said TxDOT Aviation Director of Grants Kari Campbell. “His story was pretty intense and his delivery was extremely captivating. It was chilling to hear what he went through in Afghanistan. Then unexpectedly, he would inject humor into his presentation, which was enjoyable. He is a remarkable human being who has chosen to use his adverse experiences to inspire and enlighten others. His integrity, gratitude, and humility are quite impressive! It was an honor to have him provide this year’s keynote address.”