Don’t miss the New York Times bestselling on-the-ground memoir from a Navy SEAL who was part of SEAL Team THREE with American Sniper Chris Kyle. Experience his deployment, from his gripping first mission to his first kill to his eventual successful return to the United States to play himself in the Oscar-nominated film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper.
The Last Punisher is a bold, no-holds-barred first-person account of the Iraq War. With wry humor and moving testimony, Kevin Lacz tells the story of his tour in Iraq with SEAL Team THREE, the warrior elite of the Navy. This legendary unit, known as “The Punishers,” included Chris Kyle (American Sniper), Mike Monsoor, Ryan Job, and Marc Lee. These brave men were instrumental in securing the key locations in the pivotal 2006 Battle of Ramadi, told with stunning detail in these pages.
Minute by minute, Lacz relays the edge-of-your-seat details of his team’s missions in Ramadi, offering a firsthand glimpse into the heated combat, extreme conditions, and harrowing experiences they faced every day. Through it all, Lacz and his teammates formed unbreakable bonds and never lost sight of the cause: protecting America with their fight.
The Last Punisher brings the reader into the life and mind of a SEAL, demonstrating the tough realities of war. At the same time, Lacz shares how these experiences made him a better man and how proud he is of his contributions to one of this country’s most difficult military campaigns. Lacz is now an in-demand public speaker testifying to the ability of a veteran to thrive at home. The book includes an afterword on the making of the hit film American Sniper.
The Last Punisher is the story of a SEAL who was never afraid to answer the call.
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About the Author
Kevin Lacz left college and joined the US Navy following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He served with SEAL Team THREE as a sniper, breacher, and medic and did two combat deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He received a Bronze Star with Valor, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medals in addition to others for his service. Kevin served as a technical advisor and played himself in Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-nominated film American Sniper. He lives in Florida with his wife Lindsey and their two children.
Read an Excerpt
“GET YOUR S**T! All hands to the roof of Shark House!” Marc Lee’s breathless bark snapped me out of sleep.
I didn’t think as I jolted off my cot, stuck my bare feet in my Oakley boots, and grabbed my web gear, machine gun, helmet, and night-vision goggles (NVGs). I ran hot on Marc’s heels, in nothing but a pair of PT shorts and some assault gear, as we raced the hundred yards to the roof like sharks toward blood in the water.
Impending violence permeated the Euphrates’s musty breeze.
“Muj swimmers trying to attack Blue Diamond,” Marc called over his shoulder as we hit the ground-floor entrance to the house. Camp Blue Diamond was the Marine base across the river to our east. We bounded up the stairs, untied boot laces whipping our bare shins. On the roof, we joined about twenty other Teamguys, most of us in PT shorts and bare chested, the unofficial uniform for middle-of-the-night, just-out-of-your-rack muj hunting. I saw an occasional T-shirt and had to stifle a chuckle when I noticed Guy, one of our officers, and his perfect uniform. A hodgepodge of support guys intermixed among us. When Marc said all hands, he had meant all hands. Everybody wanted to get his war on.
The muj had sent a sorry contingent of maritime fighters to attack the Marine base. Blue Diamond had alerted our tactical operations center (TOC), who in turn had coordinated the perfect L-shaped ambush. We stood poised, waiting for the green light from our base defense operations center on Camp Ramadi. Our mismatched uniforms and patchwork appearance belied our deadly potential. We stood, silently, vipers waiting to strike.
Somebody was going to have a bad night.
Guy was on my left. Marc Lee and Ryan Job fell in alongside him. JP was to my right. We were new to war, but our brotherhood spanned many generations and was forged by a proud warrior tradition. We were ready.
A few spots to my right, a support guy named Neal was armed to the teeth. I stifled another chuckle. His gear was an arsenal of grenades, M4 mags, and trinkets. He had no NVGs. I turned my attention back across the quiet river. My night vision infiltrated the darkness, and I could see movement. I pushed the safety off on my gun and turned on my infrared laser.
Then the command came.
Three, two, one. Execute.
Together, we unleashed hell on the river below and the unsuspecting muj lurking in its waters. It was euphoric. I methodically delivered 150 rounds in precise eight-to-ten-round bursts. The tracers screamed across the water. Some hit and stuck; others deflected and fizzled into the night. The intense energy of American ordnance and thunder of machine guns singing all around left no doubt in my mind: I was born for this.
I looked around me at every other man doing exactly the same thing and realized that this is how it had always been. Since the first man threw a rock, to when a man chucked a spear, to when another man aimed his rifle, it has come down to a man, his weapon, and the brothers who will fight with him. At that moment, everyone who mattered to me was on that rooftop. Nothing existed beyond Ramadi. These were the men who would bring me out alive, as I would them. I had literally nothing but my gun and my brothers. I hope it will always be like this.
I didn’t notice my scalding-hot shell casing ejecting toward JP’s exposed leg to my right. I didn’t care. When the abrupt call to cease fire finally came, my ears rang, my hands tingled, and the enemy was dead or dying. I felt alive.
Someone was yelling at Neal for firing six mags at the enemy with no night vision on. We called him Shadow Stalker for the rest of the deployment. A gunner’s mate tech asked sheepishly, “Hey, man, am I going to get my Combat Action Ribbon for this?”
“Sure, man,” I said, deciding to let him revel in his glory for a little while.
I checked my left flank. Guy, Marc, and Ryan had the familiar look of satisfaction that operating a powerful weapon delivers. JP cussed the burns on his left calf from my brass. I shrugged and took a deep breath. The smell of cordite from hundreds of spent rounds mixed with a breeze from the Euphrates’s ancient waters. I put my gun on safe and hit the pressure pad for the laser. I grabbed my gear and began the walk back to my tent, wondering how many similar opportunities I’d have like this over the next seven months. I didn’t want it to change me, or us—any of us. I didn’t think ahead to the future—where I’d be as a man or a husband or father a decade later. It didn’t matter at the time. I just needed to clean my gun. I was in Ramadi, and I’d be back in my rack before the flies found the meat we’d left for them in the reeds.
Later, I lay awake for only a moment before falling into a satisfied sleep, confident in the work I’d done with the others.
I hope it will always be like this.
Table of Contents
Foreword Scott McEwen ix
1 Tadpole 11
2 Newguy 25
3 Charlie 13 36
4 Put Me In, Coach 46
5 A Publisher's First Kill 62
6 Firelight in the Ma'Laab 77
7 Mass Casualties 85
8 Nailed It! 95
9 Don't Get Cocky 103
10 Overwatch at Bernie's 117
11 Chainsaw Massacre 130
12 23 in 24 140
13 Two-For 155
14 The Mailman Delivers 169
15 Patrol to Contact 181
16 Up the Gut 193
17 Iwo Jima Games 208
18 KYK'ing Ass 216
19 Man Down 226
20 All Stop 236
21 Final Salute 249
22 Payback 261
23 A Final Op 269
24 Leaving 278
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Mr. Lacz. (I hope that you, or someone you know reads this review) First, THANK YOU!!! (for your service, and writing this book,) You are a true American HERO! You may dismiss it as "doing your job" , but through your words and ACTIONS you embody the (American) warrior spirit. Very glad you returned "intact" (on ALL levels. Whether you realize it or not, you shed light on one of LEGEND'S (Chris Kyle's) sentiments. I just accepted Mr. Kyle's statements regarding the "regrets" he had. When late in this book, you stated that your fallen Brother's deaths seemed to weigh heavily on his heart, as Brothers "unsaved". I remember that regret mentioned several times in American Sniper. It's hard to say which book I enjoyed more (including also, Lone Survivor). IMHO, Mr. Eastwood hopefully realized the hero GIANTS he was sharing that movie set with. Again, THANK YOU!! STRENGTH'N'HONOR, skipper1961
You must read this if you are looking for a dirty, gritty, heartbreaking true account of a man's war story.
This book is a real easy read . Very compelling, and difficult to put down . Great Job , BTF .
I was not expecting much when I bought the book. I thought that the book was going to be just another member of Chris Kyle’s unit cashing in on the book/movie American Sniper. I could not have been more wrong. I thought the book was great and Kevin Lacz told his story in an honest way. Unlike the previous reviewer, I realize that a warrior in a war zone will use bad words and maybe his words would not be politically correct. Kevin Lacz’s words described what he saw, how he felt, how he was able to deal with his training/deployment and what was in his heart. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy an honest description of a young man who grew up, served his country, served with many who have since been taken from us and became a warrior.
First, I'd just like to say I never write reviews. However, having read many books like this one I felt compelled too as this book spoke to me. It has left a lasting impression in my heart. This book isn't just about war. It's about a special bond that only those who have been through it can understand. It gives incredible insight to the sacrifices all of our men and women in the armed forces experience. I see that many are comparing this book to American Sniper. Yes Kevin Lacz was in the teams with Chris Kyle, and having read both books, I can tell you that The Last Punisher offers something a little different. This book gives you a true sense of the "Brotherhood". This book offers a unique way of captivating your attention and making you feel as though you are experiencing it yourself. This book made me laugh, made me cry, and even made me angry at times, but MOSTLY I just felt GRATEFUL. War isn't pretty, and Kevin Lacz didn't sugar coat that.This book is an honest look at what war does to a man and his country. It's pure raw emotion that kept me reading and opened my eyes to his experiences. At times it can be dark, but thats what war is. It's about pushing yourself beyond what you think is possible and finding a way to persevere because you're serving a greater purpose. I was incredibly humbled by this book, and I've found that despite not fully being able understand what it must have felt like for him, and what those experiences can do to a man, I'm grateful for people like Kevin who are willing to do what I can't. This book taught me that. Thank you for training hard, thank you for giving up time with family, thank you for giving us all you had, and thank you for your willingness to be vulnerable but mostly, THANK YOU for caring more for your country than you did yourself. It's people like you that make America great, it's stories like these that should be told. This book will not disappoint. I can't say enough about it.
I was just barely able to finish reading the book for all the filthy language. Removeall the vulgar language and it might have been a good read, but as is I would not recomend this book for any one no matter what age. I deleted this book as soon as I read it.