How many injuries did Marcus Luttrell have?

Marcus Luttrell was a United States Navy SEAL who was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions in June 2005 facing Taliban fighters during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan. Luttrell was the only survivor of a four-man SEAL team that was given the mission to capture or kill a Taliban leader. During the mission, Luttrell’s team was ambushed by a large contingent of Taliban fighters. Over the course of the ambush and Luttrell’s subsequent attempts to evade capture, he sustained numerous serious injuries.

Summary of Injuries

In total, by the time Luttrell was finally rescued, he had suffered the following injuries:

  • 11 gunshot wounds
  • Shrapnel wounds from rocket propelled grenades (number unspecified)
  • A fractured back from falling off a cliff
  • A shattered right knee from a gunshot wound
  • Numerous cracked vertebrae from falling off the cliff
  • A collapsed lung from bullet wounds
  • Other broken bones (number unspecified)
  • Numerous lacerations and abrasions

In summary, Luttrell sustained a tremendous number of very serious injuries during the course of the ambush and his escape and evasion. He was severely wounded by gunshots, explosions, falls, and prolonged exposure and exhaustion. The fact that he survived at all is considered extraordinary.

Details of Injuries Sustained During Ambush

According to his own after-action report, as well as eyewitness accounts from the mission commander Lt. Mike Murphy, during the course of the ambush Luttrell sustained the following injuries:

  • A bullet wound to his thigh from an AK-47 which destroyed his right quadriceps muscle
  • A grenade blast that peppered his legs with shrapnel – this occurred simultaneously with the gunshot wound to his thigh
  • At least one gunshot wound to his left leg, below the knee
  • One bullet wound to his right buttocks
  • Another bullet wound to his right leg
  • A grazing bullet wound across his scalp

In addition, the grenade blasts and hail of bullets killed three other SEALs and peppered Luttrell’s back with shrapnel. In total, during the ambush itself, Luttrell sustained 5-7 gunshot wounds and numerous shrapnel wounds from grenade blasts. He was unable to walk due to a destroyed quadriceps muscle and multiple compound fractures.

Injuries Sustained During Escape and Evasion

After regaining consciousness from the ambush, Luttrell crawled seven miles to a forested area. He evaded Taliban forces for nearly an entire day, much of the time dragging his injured legs behind him. Exhausted and delirious from pain and blood loss, he fell off a ridge and rolled, fracturing his back and further injuring himself. His injuries at this point included:

  • The previous 5-7 gunshot wounds
  • Numerous shrapnel wounds to his back and legs
  • A collapsed lung
  • Several fractured vertebrae in his back from the fall
  • Compound fractures in his right leg
  • A shattered right knee
  • Lacerations and abrasions to hands, arms, face and body from the fall down the ridge
  • Severe blood loss resulting in delirium and confusion

During the next four days Luttrell slowly crawled through the mountains, evading Taliban search teams and attack dogs. He found water but no food or medical treatment. He usedshirts from his fallen comrades to wrap his shattered leg and back. He was unable to set bones or treat his injuries other than primitive bandages to stop blood loss. By the end, every movement was agonizing torture due to a combination of debilitating injuries, exhaustion, starvation and dehydration.

Final Injuries Tally Upon Rescue

When Luttrell was finally rescued by U.S. forces on July 2, 2005, after nearly a week on his own, he was immediately airlifted to a military hospital. At this point, his injuries included:

  • 11 gunshot wounds in total
  • Dozen of shrapnel wounds from grenades, some minor, some larger
  • Collapsed lung
  • 4 cracked vertebrae in his spine
  • Fractured pelvis
  • Compound fractures in his right femur and tibia
  • Completely shattered right knee
  • Torn ligaments and tendons throughout knees and legs
  • Massive soft tissue damage and blood loss in legs
  • Kidney damage from dehydration and muscle breakdown
  • Severe sepsis from infection
  • Numerous lacerations and abrasions over entire body

In summary, Marcus Luttrell suffered a tremendous number of debilitating, life-threatening injuries that would have killed most people. His survival and recovery are considered legendary. The injuries included over a dozen gunshot and shrapnel wounds, multiple compound fractures, a collapsed lung, cracked vertebrae, nerve damage, massive soft tissue damage and loss of blood volume. Few people could have survived such extensive trauma.

Medical Treatment and Longterm Effects

Luttrell spent 7 days in intensive care and underwent emergency surgeries to stabilize him. He received blood transfusions, treatment for infections, chest tubes for his lungs, morphine for pain, and nutrition through IVs. Once stable, he underwent 8 more surgeries to reconstruct his legs, knee, and remove shrapnel. He spent nearly a year in rehabilitation re-learning to walk and regaining strength.

He recovered surprisingly well considering the extent of his injuries. He walks with a slight limp due to leg nerve damage and required a knee brace, but was able to return to limited duty with some restrictions. His pain never fully dissipated. Luttrell also suffered from severe PTSD from the loss of his team and his experience evading the Taliban. He was later medically retired from the Navy due to both his physical limitations and PTSD.

In summary, the horrendous injuries Luttrell sustained took months of surgeries, recovery and rehab but his youth and training helped him regain good physical function. However, the mental and emotional scars remain and ultimately led to his medical retirement. His experience was life-changing in every way imaginable.


Marcus Luttrell suffered some of the most extensive combat injuries recorded from a single sustained engagement. Precise records were not kept of each wound, but estimates put the tally at approximately:

  • 11-15 gunshot wounds
  • 15-20 shrapnel injuries from grenades
  • 3-4 compound fractures
  • 4 cracked vertebrae
  • Collapsed lung
  • Kidney damage
  • Numerous lacerations
  • Massive blood loss

Very few people could have survived such traumatic injuries even with prompt medical care. The fact that Luttrell lived after sustaining this level of damage, then evaded enemy forces for nearly 100 hours before rescue is considered superhuman. His resilience speaks to his incredible physical strength, endurance, training, and willpower. However, the sacrifices he made for his country were overwhelming. Marcus Luttrell’s story and his injuries stand as a testament to the incredible risks and sacrifices made by our armed forces.

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