He stood behind Rick Perry when the ex-governor of Texas announced his entry into the Republican primary race in June of 2015.
Marcus Luttrell — the former Navy SEAL who became known as the heroic “Lone Survivor” after a 2005 Taliban ambush on a desolate mountain in Afghanistan — heartily endorsed and supported his close friend, Perry, for the nomination that was eventually won by Donald Trump.
Now, as Perry’s confirmation process to become Trump’s Secretary of Energy got underway, Luttrell was once again at Perry’s shoulder and was frequently seen on camera as the Senate hearing progressed Thursday.
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The scene was a conference room in the Dirksen Senate Office Building where members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee began to question the ex-governor who once wanted to eliminate the federal department he now seeks to run.
As Democrats on the committee began to pepper Perry with questions about his belief in climate change and his commitment to alternative energy sources, there was Luttrell sitting behind the nominee, as though he were on guard to let Trump’s pick for the post know he had his back.
The former SEAL, who won the Navy Cross and Purple Heart for his actions in June 2005 against Taliban fighters, has become like a second son to Perry and his wife, Anita, who was also present for the hearing.
In a 2015 story explaining the closeness between the Perrys and Luttrell — a piece published only months before Perry made his second bid to become his party’s nominee for president — The Washington Post detailed how “a virtual father-son relationship blossomed” between the then-governor of the Lone Star State and the Afghan war veteran who would come to be known as the “Lone Survivor” after publication of the book about his extraordinary exploits.
The governor and his wife, Anita, helped bring Luttrell back to health. Perry used the power of his office to find Luttrell a spine surgeon to fix his back. The Perrys gave him a spare bedroom — “I was the creepy guy in the attic,” Luttrell recalled. The governor took him bass fishing, the first lady counseled him about his love life….
Luttrell sat quietly, stoically behind the cabinet nominee during the three-hour question-and-answer session.
According to USA Today, “Perry, who is not a scientist as his two predecessors have been, stressed several times during the hearing that he believes his experience as Texas governor has helped prepare him to lead the Energy Department.”
The former governor noted that Texas leads the nation in energy production, not only from oil and gas, but also wind. It was on the subject of wind power and its potential future for the United States that one of the hearing’s lighter moments came.
Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota asked the nominee if he had enjoyed an earlier meeting in the liberal lawmaker’s office. The Hill reports that Perry — who has been known for an awkward turn of a phrase now and again — replied, “I hope you are as fun on the dais as you were on your couch.”