Captain Blake Luttrell
On January 9, 2012, Captain Blake Luttrell, a special tactics officer, and his element were
conducting a helicopter assault in Afghanistan to capture a known insurgent and improvised
explosive device facilitator. Captain Luttrell’s element was ambushed by a battle-hardened group
of insurgents located 100 meters away. As Captain Luttrell coordinated Army attack helicopters
overhead, two Afghan commandos were fatally shot. Moments later, another Afghan commando
received a fatal gunshot wound to the torso. In response, Captain Luttrell and a teammate moved
forward to pinpoint the enemy while taking direct, accurate fire.
Captain Luttrell then directed Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to suppress the enemy cave complex, which they did with 100 rounds of 30-millimeter shells and four thermobaric hellfire missiles. Captain Luttrell and his element continued to maneuver under hostile fire towards the fortified enemy position, and while clearing a nearby building, his element was attacked by small arms fire from a cave less than five feet away. As one Special Forces Soldier moved around a corner to return fire, he was shot at point-blank range, knocked to the ground, and was subsequently shot again multiple times. Without hesitation, Captain Luttrell aggressively engaged the enemy with his automatic weapon, deployed smoke into the cave entrance, and courageously moved forward despite taking heavy fire. While enemy rounds impacted all around him, he pulled the wounded Soldier from the cave entrance and out of the line of fire.
Captain Luttrell then administered lifesaving treatment to the wounded Soldier by placing tourniquets on both legs. As he conducted first aid, his teammates suppressed the threat, enabling the entire element to maneuver out of the kill zone. Captain Luttrell then coordinated a show of force with attack helicopters and established a helicopter landing zone 200 meters south of the cave to evacuate the wounded Soldier. Once the Soldier was successfully extracted, Captain Luttrell pushed all friendly elements to a safe distance and controlled an Air Force B-1 bomber that dropped a 2,000-pound bomb, destroying the cave and ending the enemy resistance.
Captain Luttrell’s terminal attack control measures resulted in the deaths of four enemy fighters. During the entire engagement, Captain Luttrell remained under intense enemy fire; yet, epitomizing true heroics, he never wavered during the heat of battle. For his actions, he was awarded the Silver Star Medal.