Gainesville Hero Recognized in Best-Selling Novel and at Local Event

Contact Patti Fabiani, Executive Director, Gainesville Fisher House Foundation: 352-514-9761

GAINESVILLE, FL - Lone Survivor, a movie that details the story of a deadly SEAL operation that resulted in heavy American casualties, is wrenching the hearts of people around the world. At the center of the attention surrounding Operation Red Wings are the families who lost loved ones on June 28, 2005, the day the mission went fatally wrong. Among those is the family of James Suh, a University of Florida alumnus who died that afternoon in the craggy terrain of Eastern Afghanistan.


Suh, a respected 28-year-old Navy SEAL, was engaged in a rescue mission when the MH-47 Chinook helicopter he was aboard was shot down. In a daring attempt to extract four Navy SEALS involved in Operation Red Wings, Suh and 15 other military members died.

The men Suh was trying to save included Marcus Luttrell, the sole survivor of the mission, Michael Murphy, Danny Dietz and Matthew Axelson. The four soldiers were surrounded by Taliban forces and overwhelmed by gunfire when the rescue mission was launched. Suh was among 11 SEALs who died that day.

Marcus Luttrell, the only soldier who survived the brutal Taliban attack, returned to the U.S. to co-author a New York Times bestselling book "Lone Survivor," which details the epic battle he and his fellow SEAL teammates fought that day in the mountains of Afghanistan. The movie version was released in December 2013, and has grossed more than $76 million.

In his book, Luttrell recalls that he saw the helicopter Suh was in zoom to the rescue, but didn't hear of his friend's fate until he was rescued days later. A "buddy" of Luttrell's, Suh was mentioned several times in the riveting read.

According to Claudia Suh, James' older sister, Suh became interested in the Navy SEALs at a young age. While at UF, he joined the ROTC and was known to frequently run up and down the stadium steps at The Swamp. Suh graduated in 2000, and less than two years later he began the most rigorous, demanding training in the military to join the elite SEAL forces.

In honor of Suh and other local military members who died serving our country, UF's NROTC began hosting an annual Fallen Heroes 5K. Each year, NROTC members recount Suh's heroic story and hundreds run in remembrance of our fallen military personnel. The runners begin the race at UF's commuter lot and wind their way past shimmering Lake Alice.

This year, the race will be held on Saturday, March 29. Participants can register on by searching "Fallen Heroes 5K." Benefits from the race will go to the Gainesville Fisher House Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting wounded military members by providing beautiful, free living facilities to their families. A portion of the funding will also go the UDT-SEAL Association, a nonprofit organization that provides support to veterans.