At the beginning of the book, Marcus Luttrell describes his childhood and his training to prepare for the Navy SEALs with Billy Shelton. After joining the U.S. Navy and completing SEAL training, Luttrell describes his posting in Afghanistan, in the Hindu Kush mountains of the Kunar province. With him are the rest of SEAL Team 10, except Shane E. Patton, for whom Danny Dietz was substituted. Their mission, Operation Red Wings, was to stake outside a village and capture or kill a leading Taliban member thought to be allied with Osama bin Laden. One night in June 2005, while hiding out, the team encountered three Afghanistan shepherds, including a boy. The team debated sparing or killing the three shepherds but after a vote, team leader Michael Murphy had to make the decision. To uphold the Rules of engagement, Murphy let the shepherds go. About an hour later, the four SEALs were surrounded by more than a hundred Taliban warriors. The two parties engaged, the odds drastically against the SEALs, all but Luttrell were killed in action.