Luttrell continues to stay with Gulab while Gulab’s father walks out to Asadabad to talk to the American military. Gulab informs Luttrell that he has received a letter ordering him to hand over the American to the Taliban immediately—but Gulab has no interest in complying with these demands.
Gulab stands up to the Taliban soldiers, even though he’s risking his own life, and probably the lives of his family members, in doing so.
One evening, Luttrell hears local children shouting, “parachute!” Luttrell learns that the American military has dropped supplies near Sabray—presumably to help the fallen SEALs. Shortly afterwards, Gulab and his men give Luttrell his rifle, his ammunition, and his radio. Luttrell knows that he could contact the Americans by sending out a distress signal—the problem, however, is that this signal would also draw Taliban forces into Sabray.
The American military is still looking for Luttrell, honoring its commitment never to leave a man behind. At the same time, Luttrell receives additional proof that Gulab and his friends are on his side: they give him his rifle, presumably assuming that they can trust Luttrell.
A few nights later, the village children bring Luttrell instructions for using a cell phone, which they say they found with the parachute supplies. Later on, they bring a battery and some food. Luttrell notices that the children have been beaten up, suggesting that the Taliban soldiers attacked the children to stop them from getting anything from the parachute. While he’s horrified by the Taliban’s behavior, Luttrell begins to think strategically: the military has dropped supplies, suggesting it believes at least one SEAL is still alive.
As Luttrell spends more time in the village, he comes to sympathize with the people (and especially the children), who live there, to a degree that he hasn’t expressed previously. Here again, his experiences hammer home his hatred for the Taliban, even as he seems to acknowledge that there are more “good people” in Afghanistan than he’d previously thought.
Luttrell wants to leave Sabray his own—he knows he’s in danger as long as he’s in the village, and he doesn’t want villagers to suffer because of him. But his options are limited, and furthermore, Gulab’s father may or may not have made contact with the Americans in Asadabad. Luttrell could wait in the village, or he could try to walk to the U.S. outpost in Monagee. He considers walking to Asadabad himself, but decides that it’s too far. In the end, Gulab arranges to walk Luttrell into Monagee overnight. Luttrell, Gulab, and a few other men plan to leave late at night, but a heavy storm prevents them from doing so.
Luttrell is healing quickly, but not quickly enough for him to walk all the way into Asadabad safely—apparently, an elderly man is more capable of walking there than he is, suggesting that he’s still in bad health as a result of his shootout with the Taliban. Luttrell must continue to lean on Gulab and his friends.
It’s the 4th of July weekend, a time of celebration for all Americans. But back in America, Luttrell’s parents are grieving, thanks to the misinformation they’ve seen on television. However, Senior Chief Petty Officer Chris Gothro visits Holly and tells her that Luttrell is MIA, meaning he could still be alive.
Officer Gothro offers Holly some consolation in her time of grief, pointing out that Luttrell may still be alive. Of course, this may torment Holly even more than the news of her son’s death, since it prevents her from reaching any kind of closure.
On the morning of July 4th, Luttrell wakes up—the overnight walk was canceled due to the rain. Luttrell is furious and—he admits later—ungrateful to Gulab for looking out for his safety. He realizes that Ben Sharmak is still waiting to kill him—doing so would be a huge victory for the Taliban.
This is one of the few passages in which Luttrell admits that he’s not grateful enough to Gulab for saving his life. However, one could argue that Luttrell doesn’t fully express his gratitude elsewhere in the memoir, either. (And the story of Luttrell and Gulab’s relationship after the publication of the book is a long, interesting, and tragic one as well.)
Later in the day, Gulab cries out, “Taliban! Taliban are here!” Luttrell runs out of the house, but then realizes he doesn’t have his gun. Bravely, Gulab runs back into the village to retrieve Luttrell’s gun. He gives Luttrell the gun and says, “We fight.” Luttrell quickly takes control over the situation, ordering Gulab where to stand and fire.
Even after his injuries, Luttrell falls back on his expert SEAL training, instinctively taking his battle position and ordering Gulab how to do the same. Once again Gulab shows himself to be incredibly brave, and loyal to a man he has no reason to protect.
The Taliban storm Sabray—Luttrell can hear the cries of young children. But slowly, it becomes clear that the Taliban aren’t approaching any further. After an hour or so, Gulab tells Luttrell, “Taliban gone.” Gulab also tells Luttrell that a helicopter is coming to help him. Luttrell doubts this’ll happen.
The Taliban raid ends as suddenly as it begins. Luttrell emphasizes the Taliban’s cruelty to the young children in the community, again emphasizing their inhumanity (but also showing how children might not just grow up romanticizing insurgents, but also fearing them).
Though Luttrell doesn’t know it at the time, Gulab has correctly guessed that the Taliban have broken into the building where Luttrell was staying, found nothing, and refrained from searching for other houses for fear of alienating the village elders. Surprisingly, the Taliban are very cautious in Pashtun villages, because they need to keep the people on their side.
During the War on Terror, Afghanistan was often described in blanket terms as a “hostile” country. But as Luttrell suggests here, Afghanistan was largely a politically neutral country, in which both the American troops and the Taliban were vying for the “hearts and minds” of villagers like the ones Luttrell describes here.
Back in Texas, the Luttrell family’s vigil continues. The media repeat that Luttrell is dead, but Morgan refuses to consider that he’s dead.
Luttrell cuts back and forth between Texas and Afghanistan in a suspenseful, cinematic way.
In Sabray, Gulab and Luttrell decide to “make a break for it.” They rush away from the village and into the mountains. Moving at this speed is painful for Luttrell, but he manages to keep up. As the two men approach the Hindu Kush, Luttrell looks up and sees none other than Ben Sharmak, “the man I had come to capture or kill,” surrounded by soldiers. Luttrell recognizes Sharmak from photographs. Luttrell realizes that Sharmak’s men are holding their fire because Luttrell is with Gulab.
In this suspenseful scene, it’s clear how great a risk Gulab is taking by offering his protection to Luttrell. Even though the Taliban have the power to murder him and his family, Gulab stands up to Ben Sharmak, not just because of an ancient custom but because of his decency and strong moral code. (Gulab later faced years of assassination attempts from the Taliban because of his actions, and his beloved nephew was murdered.)
While the men hold their fire, Gulab and Sharmak speak in private. Luttrell knows they’re talking about him. This is a standoff between two principled men: Gulab the “village cop” and Sharma the “relentless killer.”
Surprisingly, Luttrell is willing to admit that Sharmak is “principled,” where in previous chapters he’s emphasized the corruption and ideological confusion of the opposing side in the War on Terror.