Hollywood movie honors NorCal Navy SEAL killed during mission

12:45 PM, Jan 11, 2014   |    comments
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SEAL Team 10 sniper Matt Axelson died in Eastern Afghanistan in June 2005 during "Operation Redwings". (Photo courtesy of Axelson's father-in-law Ardie Oji)

YUBA CITY, Calif. - The film portraying a Navy SEAL team's failed mission is garnering praise from relatives of one of the men killed.

The father-in-law of SEAL Team 10 sniper Matt Axelson calls Lone Survivor, "as accurate as you're gonna get." Ardie Oji, whose daughter Cindy married Axelson after the pair met in Chico, said director Peter Berg got it right.

"It was not just another movie to make money with," Oji said from his Yuba City home Friday night. "It was a personal crusade on [Berg's] part to get this thing done, and he wanted to make it as realistic as possible to honor the men that were lost."

The movie is based off the New York Times bestselling novel Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson. The book, and movie, is the story of "Operation Redwings" and the SEALs who lost their lives in the mission. Luttrell was the sole survivor of the mission.

Oji said his daughter last spoke with Axelson in June 2005 the night before the operation began in Eastern Afghanistan. The mission was designed to take out a Taliban leader, who reportedly had close ties to Osama Bin Laden.

"He just said that he'd be out for a few days and wouldn't be calling her," Oji said.

The family feared the worst when they saw media reports that a SEAL team was lost. A few days later, a chaplain and SEAL officers came to their door.

Oji described Axelson as the last person you would expect to be a Navy SEAL.

"He was very, very quiet. He didn't like to draw attention to himself," Oji said. "He was almost shy."

Axelson's cousin Amanda Spielman danced with him the day he married Oji's daughter.

"As a 10-year-old, I didn't know anything. It was, my cousin was missing, my cousin was gone," Spielman said at Memorial Park in Cupertino, where a statue of two Navy SEALs standing back to back depicts Axelson.

Spielman, who's now 18, also has praise for the film.

"I think it does bring a face to all of them for anyone who's going to go see that movie," Spielman said. "They're no longer just someone thousands of miles away, fighting. They're these people with these families."

Oji said his son-in-law had the intense commitment needed to succeed as a SEAL. When Axelson was chosen to take sniper training, Oji said he wondered if Axelson would make it.

 "He passed with flying colors," Oji said. "So he was the best of the best."

Oji said he doesn't want to be overly political, but he hopes the film makes Americans ask the same question he asks.

"I really don't know why we're there," Oji said. "All we're doing is just getting some really great men and women killed and hurt."

Watch the trailer for Lone Survivor below: (Can't see the video, go to this link http://bit.ly/18tF0sI)



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