“American Sniper” Interview with the Mother of Marc Lee, NAVY SEAL

The new blockbuster movie, American Sniper, features the true story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, whose friend, Marc Lee, was the first Navy SEAL killed in Iraq.

Several years ago I had the opportunity to interview Marc Lee’s mother, Debbie, for my co-authored book, Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq and Afghanistan (Battlefields and Blessings Series, AMG, Jane Hampton Cook, Jocelyn Green, John Croushorn).

Below I’ve excerpted Debbie’s story from this book, which is a collection of 365 devotional stories through first-hand accounts from members of the military or their families. Her heart, faith, and love for America, have inspired millions.

Courage in the Night
Debbie Lee, Gold Star Mother of Marc Alan Lee, First Navy SEAL killed in Iraq 8-2-06

It was a warm August evening in Surprise, Arizona and my Bible study was gathered, as we celebrated my birthday. One of my friends had given me one of the Willow Tree Angels named “Courage.” She told me that it reminded her of me. To her I was a “Woman of Courage.” None of us knew at that moment just how much courage would be required for me to survive what was about to happen that would change my life forever.

As we were finishing cake and ice cream I received what would be the most devastating phone call of my life. My oldest son, Kristofer, called asking where I was and how long it would take me to get home. When I questioned why he said, “You just need to come home.” I had a sick feeling in my stomach, and I knew what faced me ahead. I knew that when I arrived home I would be informed that my youngest son Marc had died— being the first Navy SEAL killed in Iraq.

Something inside of me knew when Marc left my home in March of 2006 that he wouldn’t be returning and that would be the last time I would see him. I’m not a fearful, worrisome type of person, and I didn’t dwell on that while he was deployed, but somehow I knew. I immediately left and asked my friends to pray. As I drove home a song came to me.

“I put my hope in you, Oh Lord, trusting you I will not be shaken, knowing that you will see me through I put my hope in you.” I sang it over and over as I drove home. I expected to see a black sedan sitting in front of my house, but there wasn’t one. I guess I’ve seen too many movies. Instead I saw Kris pacing in the street.

“Mom, the Navy’s here,” he said, confirming the news—Marc was dead.

My friends, prayed, cried, and comforted me. God provided friends that night and insights on courage to prepare me knowing how much I would need to trust him to face the days ahead.

Prayer: Thank you for the gift of courage.

A Hero’s Courage
Debbie Lee, Mother of Marc Alan Lee, First Navy SEAL killed in Iraq

In the early morning hours my house had emptied after receiving the tragic news my son had died. I wondered how I would survive. I knew where my strength would come from so I opened my Bible to Psalm 27 (NKJV). “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell.”

Through this passage, God confirmed to me Marc wasn’t afraid. I learned more about Marc’s final act of courage in the following days. On August 2, 2006, in Ramadi in 120 degree temperature, Marc carried the additional weight of a 150 pound M60 without a sling. His teammates were absolutely amazed at his strength.

It was the biggest battle since the war began. They had been in a firefight for two hours when Marc single-handedly stood in the direct line of fire and shot off more than 100 rounds of ammunition. Three times that day Marc would stand in the direct line of fire to defend his buddies, for you, for me, and for this nation.

Marc was a young man who selflessly gave his life because he valued other lives as more important than his own. That evening God comforted me with Psalm 27 and I knew I needed to read it at Marc’s funeral to encourage others and give them hope.

“Lord, how can I do that? I’m sure I’ll be weeping and who knows, I might faint.” Again I felt God nudging me.

I read Psalms 27 at Marc’s funeral without crying or breaking down. God gave me amazing strength as I applied each verse to our hearts. I had no clue where God would “deploy me” in the days to come, but I had hope and was confident he would see me through.

Prayer: Thank you for providing strength during extraordinary circumstances. Thank you for the courage of Marc Alan Lee and others who have sacrificed their lives for me.

Letter to the President
Debbie Lee, Mother of Marc Alan Lee, First Navy SEAL killed in Iraq

I met Congressman Greg Walden at Marc’s memorial service in Hood River. Even though I had lost my son, I explained how much I still believed in what we’re doing in Iraq, and how proud I was of President Bush, and maybe one day I could thank him. On September 11, Congressman Walden called and said, “I’m having dinner with President Bush on Wednesday, and I will hand deliver your letter if you have it to me in an hour.”

At the beginning stages of grief, I was numb. I couldn’t even write a letter to my best friend, yet alone the President of the United States. I had stayed in Hood River to repair an empty rental. I had no computer and no paper. I had found Marc’s writing tablet the day before under the house. As I wrote the date September 11, memories from 2001 flooded my heart. I had two sons and a son-in-law serving in the military. I knew then this was going to be a personal war, but I had no idea just how personal.

The letter that followed was inspired by God! Hours after the President received my letter he hand-wrote me an amazing letter saying he would be honored to meet me. Arrangements were made to meet in October.

He walked into the room with tears in his eyes and hugged me and said, “I’m so sorry mom.” He picked up his big chair that had been set about eight feet from mine and set it down two inches from mine and said, “This is where I want to sit, next to a hero’s mother.”

He held my hand and said, “How you doing mama? You’re going to need to rely on the Lord.” He was sincere, so compassionate. I knew he had a plane to catch, a bill to sign, yet people would have thought I was the only person in the world for that thirty-five minutes.

God’s creativity never ceases to amaze me—those he uses, his timing, and the tools he provides. His favor fell on me in my greatest time of need, and he provided me an opportunity to meet President Bush.

Prayer: Thank you for using ordinary things to orchestrate your favor and blessings in life.

Courage
Debbie Lee, Mother of Marc Alan Lee, First Navy SEAL killed in Iraq

I envision every morning in heaven a briefing between God and Marc, “Okay, where are we going to put mom today?” Iraq. Eighteen months after my son’s death.

My third tour with “Move America Forward” ended with the news I would be able to deliver 226,000 Christmas Cards to the troops in Iraq.

It took courage to decide to travel to the war zone where my son gave his life— courage God gave me.

Courage was my companion the night I boarded the C–130 bound for Baghdad. My flight made the craziest cork-screw landing that I could imagine to avoid being shot down by terrorists. Courage dressed me in body armor and Kevlar to go out on patrol in Baghdad and walk the streets with the 1-4 Cavalry. Courage to board the Blackhawk in the middle of the night on a secret flight to Camp Marc Lee, the base in western Iraq named in my son’s memory. Courage to walk where Marc walked his last steps, spent his last night, to smell what he smelled, and embrace what he embraced.

Yet that night at Camp Marc Lee I was reminded of what real courage is. Real courage is what our troops, my heroes face every day. Real courage is being willing to give up your right to everything you want for your future to make a better place for others. Real courage is facing the enemy and being willing to pay the ultimate price with your life because you value others’ lives more than your own. Real courage is using your voice and actions to make a difference in the world. Real courage is selfless, noble, true, humble, right, and honorable. That is the description of our men and women serving in Iraq. I witnessed it firsthand.

My Angel of Courage sits on my desk, her arms lifted high and fists clenched in victory, as if to say, YES! As a nation founded on God’s principles we need to raise our hands high and thank the one who created us and blessed us to be born in America.

Prayer: Thank you for this amazing nation. Thank you for the courage you have given the members of the military. May I show courage to themy saying thank you with my voice, pocketbook, and voting.

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About Jane Hampton Cook

Author Jane Hampton Cook is known for making history memorable and relevant to today’s news, current events, and modern-day life. A frequent guest on the Fox News Channel and other outlets, Jane is the author of eight books, including American Phoenix, America's Star-Spangled Story, and Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War. Jane is also a former White House webmaster. She lives with her husband and three young sons in Fairfax, Virginia. http://www.janecook.com http://www.amazon.com/American-Phoenix-Quincy-Louisa-Independence/dp/1595555412/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y
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One Response to “American Sniper” Interview with the Mother of Marc Lee, NAVY SEAL

  1. It was an honor to know Marc and to teach him as fairly hyper fourth and fifth grader. It is an honor to know his mom, Debbie, even though she now resides miles away. God bless you, Debbie, and thank you for your and Marc’s ultimate sacrifice.

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