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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Six U.S. Troops Killed in Afghanistan; The Lone Survivor; Shooting at Reno Hospital Complex; The Myths about Multivitamins; California Wildfire in December

Aired December 17, 2013 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Don, thanks.

Good evening everyone.

Tonight, two breaking Afghanistan -- one out of Afghanistan, a chopper down with American lives lost. That and my interview with the true American hero, the only survivor of another horrible chapter in the war and the Afghan hero who risked everything to help him.

The other breaking story tonight in Nevada, gunfire at a Reno Hospital Complex. The crisis over the questions just beginning.

Later, some answers to the question so many people have about the report that taking a multivitamin and other supplements not only won't help you, but could actually even hurt you. We'll talk about that.

We begin with the breaking news -- the deadliest single incident for Americans in Afghanistan since the summer last year, a Black Hawk helicopter down. Six U.S. members, the NATO-led international security assistance force are dead. It happened today in southern Afghanistan. Even though we don't yet have a full picture of what happened exactly, it's beginning to come into focus.

Barbara Starr is working her sources at the Pentagon and joins us now.

What are you learning, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Anderson. At this hour military investigators are urgently trying to figure out exactly what did happen here. The reports are that the helicopter, the Black Hawk went down due to mechanical failure but once it hit the ground, were any of those six military members still alive?

They are looking at a report that the helicopter once crashed came under mortar fire from Taliban forces in the immediate vicinity. So what they need to determine now, did the six members die in the crash, or is it possible, possible that they were alive when they hit the ground, that there was a mortar attack and they perished in that?

Investigators are talking to members of another helicopter that was flying in the immediate vicinity. They are trying to see what they can learn. We are told from one -- the one survivor of the crash for six U.S. military families, terrible news on this holiday season, but this has been a big issue up and down the Pentagon hallways all day, Anderson, constant meetings about what did happen and we know that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is also looking for some answers.

COOPER: And the Taliban is claiming responsibility for the attack?

STARR: They have claimed, interestingly enough, that they shot down a U.S. aircraft today. These are the kind of claims they often make most of the time. Obviously not true. Propaganda, but this is also raising the question clearly, was this claim that they shot it down related to the report that it came under a mortar attack?

COOPER: And this comes, I mean, at a backdrop of Afghan president Hamid Karzai refusing to sign an agreement with the White House over long-term troops in Afghanistan.

STARR: That's right. There are now 42,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. They want to get this agreement for a number of troops, probably about 10,000 to remain after the end of 2014. The job of the U.S. troops will help train and assist Afghan forces and do the very dangerous work of continuing to go after terrorist targets in Afghanistan.

He hasn't signed the agreement and the U.S. is getting increasingly frustrated with him, given especially the price that U.S. troops are paying.

COOPER: Yes, all right. Barbara, appreciate the update. Thank you.

And more than 12 years long, this, of course, is America's longest war. Now another searing chapter from it.

The story began when a four-man Navy SEAL team found themselves badly outnumbered in a long and vicious firefight. Only one SEAL survived. His name is Marcus Luttrell. He told me the story in a report that first aired on "60 Minutes." This is his account of a mission that went wrong after he says his unit was surprised by, of all things, some goat herders and their goats.

Marcus Luttrell and three SEAL teammates weren't the only American casualties in the battle. A chopper with 16 other Special Operations Forces that had rushed to help Luttrell and his team were shot out of the sky, killing everyone on board.

At the time, June of 2005, this was the largest loss of life in one day for Naval Special Warfare since World War II. The former commander of Marcus Luttrell is retired Vice Admiral Joe McGuire told us that no SEAL will ever forget that terrible day.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (on camera): Was that the toughest day for you as a Special Forces commander?

VICE ADM. JOE MCGUIRE, U.S. NAVY (RET.): Yes, you know, most people of my generation, they ask the question, you know, do you remember when Kennedy was shot? Well, I remember that, as well, but much more moving day for me and one that's more defining is the 28th of June 2005 when that helicopter was shot down and three of my men were killed on the ground.

COOPER (voice-over): Nineteen men lost their lives. Vice Admiral Joe McGuire was head of SEAL training at the time.

MCGUIRE: You would have to go back to World War II to have had one day where we experienced that many casualties at one time.

COOPER: McGuire says the entire SEAL community was devastated. It's a community Marcus Luttrell and his twin brother decided they wanted to be part of when they were still teenagers.

MARCUS LUTRELL, FORMER U.S. NAVY PETTY OFFICER 1ST CLASS: He had in his head that he's -- this is what we're going to do. It is like it's going to be great, man. We get to jump out of airplanes, we're going to shoot guns, and blow stuff up, we get to scuba dive, and there is an 80 percent chance we're going to die. I was like, well, sign me up, man.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Marcus Luttrell became a SEAL at the age of 25 and says receiving the special warfare insignia was the proudest accomplishment of his life.

(On camera): Do you remember when you got the trident and put it on your chest?

LUTTRELL: Absolutely. February 2nd, 2001.

COOPER: You remember the date?

LUTTRELL: Like it was my birthday.

COOPER (voice-over): Out of 86 people who started out in his SEAL training class, only 20 graduated. It's that sort of rigorous training that Vice Admiral McGuire says prepares SEALs for the kind of firefight Marcus Luttrell found himself facing in the mountains of northeastern Afghanistan.

MCGUIRE: These are just, you know, unremarkable men who do absolutely remarkable things. They're warriors. It's a warrior class. It's a warrior spirit. And they are extremely talented individuals, and, you know, there is -- this story that's come to light because Marcus survived, and Marcus feels like he survived in order to tell the story.

COOPER: On June 28th, 2005, Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell, a sniper and team medic, wasn't sure he was going to survive. He was badly wounded and didn't know anyone was trying to rescue him.

LUTTRELL: My back was broke. I had frag laying everywhere. I just crawled into this rock embankment, started taking dirt, put it in all my wounds so I wouldn't bleed to death.

COOPER (on camera): So you had no medical gear?

LUTTRELL: Uh-uh.

COOPER: Do you have a map?

LUTTRELL: It was all gone.

COOPER: Did you have a compass?

LUTTRELL: Gone.

COOPER: Did you have --

LUTTRELL: I didn't have pants on.

COOPER: You had no pants?

LUTTRELL: It was completely ripped off me.

COOPER (voice-over): Luttrell had been fighting for hours. His three SEAL brothers were all dead or near death. Petty Officer Danny Dietz from Littleton, Colorado, had been in charge of communications. Matt Axelson, Axe for short, was from Cupertino, California. Like Luttrell, he was a petty officer and a sniper. Lieutenant Mike Murphy was the team leader.

They were part of a larger mission called Operation Red Wings. Their job was to locate this man whom the four SEALs had only seen in grainy photographs. He was an elusive militia leader aligned with the Taliban named Ahmad Shah.

(On camera): Who was Ahmad Shah?

LUTTRELL: He had a group that he ran called the Mountain Tigers. He was creating all kinds of havoc out there in that particular region that he was in, killing Marines, Army -- I mean, you name it.

COOPER (voice-over): Luttrell was based at Bagram Air Base outside Kabul. He says his team had no idea exactly how many fighters Ahmad Shah had with him.

LUTTRELL: So I remember telling the guys, you know, grab some extra rounds, we may need them.

COOPER: It was pitch black when Marcus Luttrell, Danny Dietz, Matt Axelson and the team leader Mike Murphy were dropped by chopper a couple of miles from where Ahmad Shah was believed to be located. Luttrell says they hiked for hours through snowy, steep and treacherous terrain. As daylight came, the four SEALs laid down and conceal themselves on the mountainside so they wouldn't be detected.

That's when everything went wrong. Suddenly, they were surprised not by gunmen, but by a goat herder.

LUTTRELL: I was laying next to a tree, probably 60 feet long. Come walking down it and when he jumped off it, he jumped right over the top of my gun.

COOPER (on camera): He didn't see you at all?

LUTTRELL: He had no idea I was there. And I had no idea he was above me.

COOPER: Did he say anything?

LUTTRELL: Nothing. Not one word. Just a look. That's all he would do is just look at us. And I know that sounds funny, but there is a way somebody is going to look at you when you cut them off in traffic or something like that, and they're mad at you or whatnot. And then there is a way someone is going to look at you when they want to kill you, and when it happens to you, you'll never forget it.

COOPER (voice-over): Two more herders showed up along with about 70 goats. The SEAL's mission was compromised.

LUTTRELL: You hear the bells jingling and then they just come up over -- every side of it.

COOPER (on camera): Goats.

LUTTRELL: Goats. Yes.

COOPER (voice-over): Danny Dietz tried to call back to base for instructions but couldn't get through on their radio. The team had to decide on their own what to do with the goat herders.

(On camera): Run through the options that you -- that you talked about.

LUTTRELL: Talked about zip-tying them, zip-tying the goats, zip-tying and taking them with us, or zip-tying and leaving them, zip-tying the goats or just executing the goats. We talked zip-tying and eliminating the threat, the human threat.

COOPER: You talked about killing them?

LUTTRELL: Yes, and the last one was turn them loose.

COOPER (voice-over): U.S. military personnel are required to operate under formal rules of engagement that specify when deadly force can be used. A commander has the authority and obligation to use all necessary means available, the rules say, to defend his unit from a hostile act or demonstration of hostile intent. But the goat herders who'd surprised the team were unarmed.

LUTTRELL: We knew that they hated us and that they weren't on our side.

COOPER (on camera): Right.

LUTTRELL: And if they had the chance, that they would like to see us dead. That's the feeling we were getting.

COOPER: And you had every reason to believe if you let these guys go, they're going to run down the mountain and tell -- LUTTRELL: Right. But you can't justify that feeling to our superior in a court of law.

COOPER (voice-over): The SEALs knew that other U.S. military personnel had been court-marshaled and imprisoned for violating the "Rules of Engagement."

(On camera): So you were concerned that if you killed them, you would be charged with murder.

LUTTRELL: Yes. Absolutely.

COOPER: That's something you talked about?

LUTTRELL: Absolutely.

MCGUIRE: Killing them was really not an option, because they were non-combatants and they were unarmed.

COOPER (voice-over): Retired Vice Admiral Joe McGuire says the only option the SEALs really had were to take the goat herders captive and try to get evacuated by helicopter or let them go.

MCGUIRE: You don't shoot innocent people. You don't shoot unarmed people unless, of course, they pose a threat.

COOPER (on camera): Even if those goat herders are going to run down to the village and compromise your location?

MCGUIRE: That's correct. You don't -- you don't kill innocent people.

COOPER (voice-over): Luttrell told us the unit discussed what to do and were divided. In the past he's been criticized for saying they took a vote, something that's not supposed to happen in SEAL teams because it's up to the team leader to make a decision.

(On camera): What did Mike finally decide to do?

LUTTRELL: We cut them loose.

COOPER: What was the feeling you had when you let them go?

LUTTRELL: I got this sinking feeling in my stomach. I'm like, this is -- this is bad. Everybody did.

COOPER: A couple of times you said, looking back on it, you wished you had made a different decision. You wish you'd killed them. Do you still believe that?

LUTTRELL: Sure. Got my friends back? I mean, who knows what the outcome would have been. You can't -- yes. I wished I would have is the answer to your question.

COOPER (voice-over): Luttrell says it was only about an hour after they freed the goat herders that the first enemy fighters appeared. They were on a ridge on this mountainside above where the SEALs had dug in.

LUTTRELL: I mean, we had to break out shovels and use our boots and actually build these little shelves to stand in, and when we're done we leaned back against the mountain like this. The first guy I saw had an RPG over each shoulder and AK-47 and then there was about 30 or 40 guys in line with him.

COOPER (on camera): Had they seen you?

LUTTRELL: Not yet. And my rifle is right here. I just cradled it and I rolled my head up like this and I shot him in the head. The game was on right then.

COOPER (voice-over): According to Luttrell, Ahmad Shah's forces moved in to outflank the SEALs. We obtained this video reported by enemy forces from an American writer and photographer with military sources. The date stamp and other scenes that are too gruesome to show you indicate it was recorded the day of the fighting.

This is how the firefight is portrayed in a new film called "Lone Survivor" which opens later this month. It's based on a book Marcus Luttrell wrote. It's a Hollywood movie not a documentary, though Luttrell and other former SEALs consulted on the film, and Luttrell says it captures the intensity of the battle.

The enemy fire was continuous, AK-47s, rocket propelled grenades. Luttrell says when the rounds started coming in from both sides, it broke the SEALs' position.

LUTTRELL: And that shelf that I had made, it crumbled and fell apart, and just like somebody opened up a trap door underneath me, I just fell, and I started tumbling, and then I hit Mikey, and I busted him right off his little perch he was on. We both started pinballing those trees.

COOPER (on camera): You're basically tumbling down the mountain?

LUTTRELL: Yes, sir. Yes. I landed on my back and broke my back and Mikey landed on his face and crushed his face.

COOPER (voice-over): Luttrell says the four SEALs continued to fire on the advancing fighters but repeatedly fell or were forced to jump down the mountain.

LUTTRELL: Every time you fell you broke something. I mean, about an hour and a half into this, Danny has been shot three times that I know of. I was dragging him, set him up, he'd -- we'd fight for a little while. We'd get shot at. I'd drag him somewhere else.

COOPER (on camera): Even after Danny was shot multiple times and you're dragging him, he was still firing.

LUTTRELL: Yes, sir, the best he could. We got to an area where I was telling him there was another way we could fall, and when I put my arms underneath him, I put them under his shoulders, when I spun him around to take the fall, I spun him into a bullet and it hit him in the back of the head and killed him.

COOPER (voice-over): Danny Dietz was the first SEAL to die. Now it was just Luttrell, Matt Axelson and Mike Murphy left alive.

LUTTRELL: I caught up with Mikey. And he asked where Danny was and I was like, he's dead. Well, we tried to go get him but once you fell a certain distance, you couldn't get back up the way you came. It was too steep. It just wouldn't work, you know.

COOPER (on camera): What happened then?

LUTTRELL: Axe walked off from behind the rock, I was firing on, almost shot him. He sat down Indian style against my left hip and leaned against my right leg. He goes, I'm sorry, bro, I can't help you, because I'm blind. He goes, they shot me in the face.

COOPER (voice-over): Luttrell says the SEALs were surrounded. They hadn't gotten through on the radio so he says Lieutenant Mike Murphy decided to move to a completely exposed position so he could get a signal on his satellite phone and call for backup.

LUTTRELL: Mikey was -- pushed out under this boulder out in the middle of the draw in this wide open, no cover, no nothing. He was on a satellite phone.

COOPER: Luttrell saw his lieutenant make the call, the call Mike Murphy knew would likely cost him his life.

LUTTRELL: He took two rounds to the chest because he spun like a top and dropped him. I tried to -- make my way up to him. And he's my best friend, and I had already lost Danny, and I knew that Axe was dying. I didn't want to lose him. And then he started to crawl left. And I was out in the open, waving my hands like come down to me, that's all I wanted him to do is just come down to me.

And I heard his gun go off and a lot of gunfire in his area. I was trying with everything I had to get to him, and he -- he started screaming my name. He was like Marcus, man, you got to help me, I need help, Marcus, that it got so intense that I actually put my weapon down and covered my ears, because I couldn't stand to hear him die.

All I wanted him to do is stop screaming my name, and they killed him. I -- and I put my weapon down in that gunfight while my best friend was getting killed so that pretty much makes me a coward.

COOPER (on camera): How can you say that?

LUTTRELL: Say what?

COOPER: Why do you -- why do you think that?

LUTTRELL: What I think what?

COOPER: That putting your weapon down makes you a coward? LUTTRELL: Because that is a cowardly act, you put your weapon down in a gunfight. You know, they say every man has his breaking point. I never thought I'd find mine. The only way you break a Navy SEAL is you had to kill us. But I broke right there. I quit right there.

COOPER (voice-over): Still, Marcus Luttrell says he managed to pick up his weapon and found Matt Axelson, the only other SEAL left alive.

LUTTRELL: He was below me and had crawled underneath this rock over hang. And I crawled in there, I said, we're going to die, man, we're going to die right now.

COOPER (on camera): You said that to Axe?

LUTTRELL: Uh-huh. You know, I made my peace with God a long time ago about dying, but most of the time, we don't know when we're going to die. They just shut our light off, and it's a weird feeling when you know the reaper is at the door.

COOPER (voice-over): Matt Axelson was badly wounded but Luttrell, the team medic, said there was nothing he could do.

LUTTRELL: An RPG hit behind him and blew him on top of me. I just remember how loud it was and how white it went. And then when I pushed him off me, another one hit and blew us out, blew him one way, blew him another, I never saw him again the rest of my life.

COOPER: Marcus Luttrell says he isn't sure how many hours they had been fighting but as darkness fell he was all alone.

(On camera): How did you get through that night?

LUTTRELL: It was rough. It was the longest night of my life because the sun had gone down, it was dark, it was pitch black, you know, I'd fall and knock myself out. I'd come to, keep crawling, and I just -- that's what I just kept doing.

COOPER (voice-over): The next day he was desperate, still pursued by enemy fighters, he'd been shot twice in his legs, he had three cracked vertebrae and was bleeding profusely, but he says his biggest concern was finding water to drink.

(On camera): People wouldn't consider thirst as being a big deal but it becomes all you can think about after a while.

LUTTRELL: That's it. It was the only thing I could concentrate on, it was the only thing I could think about. Not even my wounds. I mean, all the wounds I had sustained, my back -- broken back, nothing, all I cared about was the thirst. That was it. I mean, I was willing to deal anybody or anything or do whatever I had to do to get water.

COOPER (voice-over): He says when he finally found water he didn't get to drink for long. He was suddenly surrounded by a small group of Afghan men.

LUTTRELL: And I found a waterfall, and I managed to get to the top of it, took my gloves off, washed my face, I leaned into the water fountain, and got two sips out of it before some guy was screaming at me again and two guys with guns are maneuvering around on me. I had my gun at my hip, tension out of my trigger, and my safety was off.

COOPER (on camera): You had a grenade, too.

LUTTRELL: Uh-huh. When he was walking towards me, I pulled it, I pulled the pin out, and I said, you know, if you try anything, I'll kill all of us, I don't care, I've had enough.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: He'd had enough. It was the second time in the mission that Marcus Luttrell had to decide, were the men in front of him, were they civilians or enemy fighters? He also didn't know that an American rescue operation had already been mounted and had gone terribly wrong.

We'll have both those story when we come back.

And shortly the breaking news out of a hospital complex in Reno, Nevada, after a gunman goes into a medical office and opens fire.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, the end of what's been a rough day for Americans in Afghanistan, we go back to 2005, some 36 hours after his four-man Navy SEAL team was dropped into enemy territory in the mountains of northeastern Afghanistan, Marcus Luttrell says he was all alone. He didn't know that Special Operations Forces had attempted a rescue operation but that mission had ended in tragedy when one of the choppers was blown up with 16 people on board.

Luttrell was badly wounded, he'd been shot twice already, several vertebrae were cracked. He had shrapnel wounds in his legs. At least two of SEAL teammates were dead, a third had been shot multiple times, and was missing. Desperately thirsty, pursued but enemy fighters, Marcus Luttrell says he had just found some water to drink when he was surprised by several Afghan men who he had first thought were members of the Taliban.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LUTTRELL: When I got to that water fall and I got those sips out of there, I was actually looking around thinking, you know, this is a pretty good place to lay down and die.

COOPER (on camera): You were ready to die?

LUTTRELL: I wasn't ready to die. I just knew I was dying.

COOPER (voice-over): That's when an Afghan man appeared. Luttrell later named his name was Muhammad Gulab.

LUTTRELL: He came over this rock ledge and started screaming at me, American, American, and I swung around on him. I had my finger on the trigger, tension on, safety off and he started walking at me, he was like OK, OK, and he lifted up his shirt to show me that he didn't have a weapon. He was like OK, OK, OK. I lowered my weapon and I pulled a grenade, and pulled the pin and I was saying, you know, I'll kill all of us.

COOPER (on camera): You were prepared to blow yourself up along with everybody else?

LUTTRELL: Yes, I wasn't going to get taken.

COOPER: Why do you think you didn't kill him?

LUTTRELL: I can't tell you. I don't know why.

COOPER (voice-over): Luckily for Luttrell, Mohammad Gulab, who lived in a nearby village, was not a member of the Taliban.

LUTTRELL: He gave me water and then he rolled me over and he had seen where I had been shot and I was bleeding real bad. Three other guys with him picked me up and started carrying me down to their village.

COOPER: SEAL commanders didn't know what had happened to Marcus Luttrell and his three team meats. Petty Officer Danny Dietz was dead, Petty Officer Matt Axelson had been gravely wounded and was separated from Luttrell. Lt. Mike Murphy had been killed after making a satellite phone call for help. Retired Vice Admiral Joe McGuire told us how much he admires Murphy for making that call.

MCGUIRE: They were in a life-and-death situation. He's been shot, Matt has been shot, Danny has been shot. He finished the call and at the end, you know, he said, we can really use your help, he said, well, help is on the way, Mike finished the call with thank you.

COOPER (on camera): Even though -- I mean.

MCGUIRE: Thank you. Yes, you know, he went out there and he gave above and beyond to do that.

COOPER: And he knew going out on that rock --

MCGUIRE: Probably wouldn't have come back.

COOPER (voice-over): As a result of the call, two Chinook helicopters like these with Special Operations Forces on board raced to the mountainside where the four SEALs had been fighting. The Chinooks went in without the Apache gunships that usually provide cover.

MCGUIRE: It was the pilots and the task unit commander that made a conscience decision that, OK, we're going to press and we're going to get there because we have to make a difference. To me, when people ask what would you say would be to sum up, you know, the greatest mistake in military operations, to me it's just simple two words -- too late.

COOPER: As portrayed in the new movie, "Lone Survivor", one of the Chinooks was hovering to offload Special Forces. That's when a rocket-propelled grenade was fired into it. All Special Operations Forces on board, eight SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers, were killed.

MCGUIRE: It hit hard and, you know, we lost all souls on board.

COOPER: Marcus Luttrell likely wouldn't have made it if it weren't for Mohammad Gulab. He ended up in his village for four days being moved between different houses and even a cave to prevent him from being captured. He was finally rescued by U.S. forces who had been scouring the mountains.

(On camera): They'd been looking for you?

LUTTRELL: Right, for as long as I've been missing. So they were beat to hell.

COOPER: What was that feeling when you saw the first American in the village?

LUTTRELL: I was out of it pretty hard. I mean, my head was down. They were carrying me. I just remember lifting my head up barely because he was screaming my name. He's like Marcus, is that you? I was, like, yes, right here, bro.

COOPER (voice-over): Marcus Luttrell, the lone survivor, was finally going home. But returning to regular life in America hasn't been easy.

(On camera): I mean, you've spent time with Marcus. What was it like for him coming home?

PETER BERG, DIRECTOR, "LONE SURVIVOR": Rough, very rough.

COOPER (voice-over): Pete Berg who directed the movie "Lone Survivor" first met Luttrell after he read his book. Berg was shocked by Luttrell's condition when he went to visit him in his house in Texas.

BERG: I went in there and it was -- it was almost like living in a shrine. It was nothing but pictures of his dead brothers and flags and helmets and mementos and pieces of uniform from his dead brothers, and on the middle of the living room floor was basically a tombstone with the names of the -- all of his brothers that had died in that operation.

And Marcus would sit in that house in that -- in that moment, in that experience, in that gunfight. He was almost living inside of it when I first met him.

COOPER: Marcus Luttrell had suffered both emotionally and physically but his family and friends say he's getting better. He has a service dog Mr. Rigby never leaves his side. He's also gotten married. He and his wife Melanie have two children.

Luttrell has also had time to piece together what happened to him when he was badly wounded on the mountain in Afghanistan including details of Gulab's role in saving his life.

Now eight years later the two men have become close friends and Gulab occasionally flies from Afghanistan to Luttrell's family's ranch in Texas to visit.

LUTTRELL: I love you. He said, I love you, too. He said, so that's why I'm here. I came for you, he says, my brother.

COOPER: We wanted to know why Gulab was willing to risk his life to help a complete stranger. He told us it was because of a tribal code of honor called Pashtunwali.

(On camera): Explain Pashtunwali.

MOHAMMAD GULAB, RESCUED MARCUS LUTTRELL (Through Translator): Pashtunwali is a respect, a respect for a guest that comes knocking at your door, and even if he is in need or if he is in imminent danger, we must protect him. I knew I had to help him to do the right thing because he was in a lot of danger.

COOPER: You knew that they would come for him?

GULAB (Through Translator): They did. The Taliban came and sat down with me. I said no, I will not hand him over to you.

COOPER: What did they threaten?

GULAB (Through Translator): They told me, you will die, your brother will die, your cousins will die, your whole family will die. It's not worth it. Give us the American. And I said no, I will protect him until the end.

COOPER (voice-over): Gulab has suffered for protecting Luttrell. He says his house was burned down and a cousin killed. In Afghanistan he's had to go into hiding with his wife and 10 children. Luttrell is hoping to get him a green card so he can settle at least part time in the United States.

LUTTRELL: I mean, we're a family. And we're --

COOPER (on camera): You consider him family?

LUTTRELL: Absolutely. We're brothers in blood. We bled together. He very well could have just left me laying there on the side of that waterfall and let me die, but he didn't.

COOPER (voice-over): For his bravery Marcus Luttrell was awarded the Navy Cross in a White House ceremony. Matt Axelson and Danny Dietz were also awarded the Navy Cross Posthumously. For sacrificing his life to make that telephone call, Lieutenant Mike Murphy was given the Medal of Honor. His parents accepted it. It was the first time the country's highest military honor was awarded for service in Afghanistan.

Ahmad Shah, the man Murphy's team was looking for was killed in a separate operation in 2008.

After retiring, Vice Admiral Joe McGuire runs the Special Operations Warrior Foundation which provides support for veterans and their families. Marcus Luttrell created and raises money for a similar group, the Lone Survivor Foundation. Luttrell has also visited families of his fallen SEAL brothers.

(On camera): You traveled around the country to do that?

LUTTRELL: Yes, sir.

COOPER: What was that like?

LUTTRELL: It sucked. Think of it like this. All right. If you had a son that was out on that mountain with me, if one guy had to live, who would you be praying for? Your son or would be praying for me? And every time they look at me, I'm the one who made it out and delivered the news of how hard their son fought, but I'm also the one who lived and their son died. Why? Why did you live and why did my son die? I don't have the answer to that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Such remarkable bravery.

Up next, there is breaking news to report today. A deadly shooting at a hospital complex in Reno, Nevada. The latest developments ahead.

Also tonight, multivitamins, are they a complete waste of money? New medical research raising serious questions. We'll talk it out with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Travis Stork.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Got more breaking news tonight. A deadly shooting at a medical building in Reno, Nevada. This happened at Renowned Medical Center where a gunman opened fire at a neurology office. The shooter killed one person and injured two others before dying of a self- inflicted gunshot wound, according to police.

Joe Johns joins us live with the latest.

So what do we know, Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, two dead, two injured is the count that authorities have given us in the shooter situation in Reno. The suspect turned the gun on himself. The motive for the shooting is not clear right now. The good news is that the lockdown that had been imposed at the Center for Advanced Medicine has now been lifted.

By the way, it's not the hospital but a building that's next to the hospital.

Police say they are shifting from the business now of trying to stabilize the scene and account for all the people who were in the building and now they're getting down to the investigation.

A little while ago Deputy Chief Tom Robinson of Reno Police talked about what the officers did when they got there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM ROBINSON, RENO, NEVADA POLICE: Immediately, our team started entering the building, started a systematic search, floor to floor, room by room. On the third floor of the building, they located two people down and they've located a couple of injuries. Officers immediately evacuated the injured parties and got them medical treatment and then we began the process of evaluating all the other people that were inside the building.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Do we know anything, Joe, about the victims yet?

JOHNS: Very little, quite frankly, Anderson, and the concern is for the victims. What we did hear at the outset very early in all of this was that at least one female health care professional had been injured on the scene. We've heard nothing more from authorities on that so far this evening -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Investigation underway. Joe, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Up next, some new information about the Colorado school shooter's plans to kill and the latest in battle that contained a wildfire that is raging out of control in Big Sur, California. Incredible pictures to show you. Plus a medical journal takes the strongest stand yet against multivitamins, if there is no proof they help us, why do people spend so much money on them?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Travis Stork join me ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight, we're digging deeper on a story that stunned a lot of people. In the new issue of "Annals of Internal Medicine" the journal's editors say in plenty blunt language that it's time to stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements including the most popular kind multivitamin.

Nearly 40 percent of U.S. adults use multivitamins but the editorial cites three new studies that found no health benefits from taking them. It also points out that other studies have found that some dietary supplements may in fact be harmful.

Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to help sort it out. Also Dr. Travis Stork, an emergency medicine physician and co- host of "The Doctors."

So, Dr. Stork, you agree with this editorial. You say you're deficient in something, a multivitamin is basically useless?

DR. TRAVIS STORK, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: Well, I think that there's been a lot of evidence out there that people who are taking multivitamins may very well be wasting their money. I really don't think there is a lot of harm in it and so based upon these studies I wouldn't tell people if they love doing it that they have to stop, but I've always told patients, if you're going to supplement, discuss it with your doctor first because the reality is that unless you're deficient in something, you probably are wasting your money.

COOPER: But, Sanjay, could they also be dangerous? Because, I mean, what kind of risks are people actually running? I read in this article that there may be some dangers.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, certainly, first of all, people taking that and thinking they don't have to eat as well because of that, there is some danger in that. And, you know, as Travis said, it's largely an unregulated industry, as well. So you're not always going to get the same thing in every pill or on every bottle, but there is some potential danger with what's known as mega-dosing.

You know, people think, hey, look if a little bit is good, more is better. Vitamin E, for example, there was a lot of hope around that. The National Cancer Institute did a study on that, and what they found was that the prostate cancer rates actually went up in people who were taking high doses of vitamin E.

So, you know, there can be some potential problems with the mega- dosing of these things but largely, it say that people, if they think that they're taken as a substitute, they don't have to eat right, that's a big problem in it of itself.

COOPER: And that's the message from both of you, saying that people should be getting their nutrients from a healthy diet, from fruits and vegetables, from -- and working out, not just thinking that this pill, this multivitamin can do it for them?

STORK: I think we struggle sometimes as doctors because we need to get the right message out there as far as what people need to do to live the longest, healthiest possible life. And there's a lot of marketing out there that hey, if I take some of these supplements off the shelf and I bring them home and I take them every night that means I'm going to be healthy.

And as doctors we want to really tell people that is not what's going to make you healthy. But I do agree with Sanjay, the biggest issue I have is when people start mega-dosing with a specific vitamin or mineral because vitamins and minerals are meant to operate in this perfect balance in our bodies. Too much is bad and too little is bad.

COOPER: And, Sanjay, among the -- according to the NIH, among the groups that use multivitamins most frequently are people with healthier lifestyles and diets and lower body mass indexes. Not really the people you would think are actually needing them?

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, and that's always part of the limitations of (INAUDIBLE). The people who do need these things usually aren't taking them and people who don't need them are sometimes taking them and taking too much.

But I will say that this editorial was interesting. And I think Dr. Stork would probably agree with this. This took it a step further than what I read before. They basically said look, for anybody who is getting enough of a good diet, it doesn't mean that they're not eating a lot of junk in addition to it, but they're not malnourished, they're not suffering from scurvy or beriberi or some disease like that.

And those people, which is most people, multivitamins aren't going to do anything for them. There is some people who are -- do have deficiencies for whatever reason, maybe they've had an operation on their stomach or their intestines. There could be some benefit to multivitamins. But that's a very small percentage of people.

And I should say this idea that more is better is simply not true. I mean, these antioxidants, you could throw off your antioxidants to oxidant ratio dramatically and that could potentially cause some harm. Dr. Paul Offit has written books about this. That is a -- that is a legitimate concern.

COOPER: And Travis, why do you think then people still continue to take them, I mean, if in fact, they really have no benefit and in some cases, you know, could be dangerous? Why are people still doing it? Is it the advertising?

STORK: I think it's just one of those things that it's been embedded in our culture and with so many people taking them and with them so readily available, that's why people do it. They take it as insurance. And I think what these studies are really hopefully highlighting is that -- there is really no basis to that claim.

COOPER: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Travis Stock, guys, thanks very much.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

STORK: Thanks.

COOPER: Well, up next, he shot 17-year-old Claire Davis in the head but tonight we're learning that the Colorado high school shooter planned to kill many more.

Also ahead, firefighters battling a massive wildfire burning homes at one of the most beautiful parts of California's coast.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: 'Tis the season to debate is Santa Claus really white? "The RidicuList" is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, hundreds of firefighters battling a raging wildfire in Big Sur along California's central coastline. In the past 48 hours it's grown to more than 500 acres. Several homes are destroyed, including the fire chief's.

It's not official fire season in California. Severe drought, though, has created a perfect condition for blaze like this one. Dan Simon now joins me by phone with the latest.

So it's raging out of control still, right, Dan?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Anderson. And you know, fire -- wildfires are common on the West Coast as we all know but this is the first one I can personally remember that -- that's happened in the middle of December. And as you pointed out, the reason why we're seeing it is because of the dry conditions out here.

This is one of the driest years on record for this particular region and it's what causing homes to burn. There is no official numbers yet but it's believed at approximately 15 homes or so have been lost.

In terms of the acreage that's been charred, we're talking about 550 acres. That's not a huge fire in the context of what we typically see on the West Coast with these wildfires, but what makes this especially noteworthy, of course, is that it's happening in an iconic famous place like Big Sur and again that it's happening this time of year -- Anderson.

COOPER: And these pictures are incredible. I understand firefighters are running into a lot of obstacles trying to fight it.

SIMON: Yes, I mean, the challenge with this blaze is that it's happening in a very steep area, largely inaccessible and that's why helicopters could be so important in battling a blaze like this. We should also point out that weather is also a concern, always a concern with wildfires, but the weather is supposed to worsen over the next couple of days, so they really want to try to get a handle on it as quickly as they can.

COOPER: And is there any sense exactly of the scope of the damage at this point?

SIMON: Well, as I said, right now, we're talking about 15 homes or so, those numbers can change, of course, once crews can really get in there and survey the scene. And right now, the acreage stands at 550 acres.

COOPER: OK.

SIMON: It's about a square mile and we'll see if those numbers go up.

COOPER: Wow. All our best to all the folks fighting the fire right now.

Dan, thanks.

Let's get caught up with some of the other stories we're following. Susan Hendricks has the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, according to investigators, the Colorado high school shooter had written on his arm plans to attack five areas of his school as well as the Latin phrase for "the dye has been cast." He shot a classmate Claire Davis in the head before killing himself on Friday. A 360 follow, a Harvard sophomore is charged with making phony bomb threats to get out of his final exam. The student allegedly the threats to the campus police and other offices. The subject line in his message read, quote, "Bombs placed around campus."

And there is a bidding war on eBay for a painting done by George Zimmerman. It depicts an American flag with part of "The Pledge of Allegiance" on it. The top bid is more than $110,000. Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin in July. He told a judge last month he is $2.5 million in debt.

And the jackpot for tonight's Mega Millions lotto drawing soars to a near record $636 million. The odds of winning not too good, one in 259 million. The drawing is at 11: 00 p.m. Eastern.

And, Anderson, if it reaches a billion, they need bigger billboards to fit that number in.

COOPER: Yes. A lot of folks around the office I think have contributed. I am. I'm in the office poll actually so --

HENDRICKS: I'm in, as well.

COOPER: All right. Well, good luck to us all.

Susan, thanks.

The "Ridiculist" is coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." You probably heard about a very important debate going on right now over Santa Clause. It all started when Megyn Kelly said this on FOX News regarding a tongue-in- cheek suggestion that maybe Santa shouldn't be a white man but a more all-inclusive penguin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: And by the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white but this person is just arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa, but, you know, Santa is what he is and just so you know, we're just debating this because someone wrote about it, kids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So that was last week and the debate began.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are a lot of people out there who automatically assumed that Santa must be white.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Santa Claus is black, he just is.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Santa is black, Santa is white, Santa is red.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Miss Kelly is correct, Santa was a white person.

LEMON: Santa Claus to me is a black man.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The point is that Santa, if you believe in him, which many of us do, is a function of what you grew up with.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My Jamaican Santas, my Haitian Santas and you know what, to my Cuban Santas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We wanted to avoid all the speculation. Just get to the facts. Just ask Santa himself what race he is. The problem is, for some reason, we were unable to get ahold of him. We just couldn't do it. Now I suppose because it's his busy season.

We had a bunch of other questions to ask as well besides the race thing. Like what about religion? I always like to think if Santa is a Presbyterian but look, can I say that definitively? No.

I'll tell you this. The whole debate of whether Santa is white is going to pale in comparison to what happens if it comes out that he's a whiken. Also do we even know where he was born? Where is the birth certificate, Mr. Kringle?

This whole debate is very confusing to me. What about the nine ladies dancing and the eight maids milking? Are they white? Suddenly I feel like I need to know. Is Frosty the Snowman white? What about the little drummer boy? Frankly, I don't even know if I'm white anymore.

Help me, Megyn Kelly. Please explain what you meant. I just want my life back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: Humor is a part of what we try to bring to this show but sometimes that is lost on the humor list. This would be funny if it were not so telling about our society. In particular the knee-jerk instinct by so many to race bait and to assume the worst in people, especially people employed by the very powerful FOX News Channel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Bam. Now that that is cleared up, we can get back to more important issues like whether Santa is a Democrat or a Republican? I will let someone else hash out that and just say Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Hey, that does it for us. We'll see you again one hour from now at 10:00 p.m. for another edition of 360. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.