Navy SEAL Is Protected by Afghan Villagers

Despite the most advanced training in the military, it is unlikely the Navy SEAL who was rescued in Afghanistan earlier this month would have survived had it not been for the kindness of Afghan villagers.

The SEAL, who is not being publicly identified by the military, had been missing for four days, after a fierce firefight with the Taliban that left his three other team members dead.

He survived the firefight because a rocket-propelled grenade knocked him off his feet when the gun battle began and sent him tumbling down a ravine. Later, one of the helicopters that came to rescue the team was shot out of the sky by the Taliban, killing the 16 special operations forces on board.

Kindness of Strangers

Wounded in the legs by shrapnel, the surviving SEAL hid in the mountainous terrain of eastern Afghanistan. He walked for miles through pouring rain and thick mud, according to a U.S. official. The soldier had no radio contact and his tracking beacon was not working.

Ninety-six hours later, the SEAL encountered a local Afghan shepherd who took the American to the safety of his nearby village.

But the ordeal was far from over. The military official told ABC News that Taliban fighters sent word to the village that the American soldier be turned over to them, but the villagers refused.

The Afghan man who had found the SEAL then got word to the U.S. military base at Asadabad that he was safe, and rescuers were then on the way retrieve him.

The missing SEAL was brought to safety on July 3. The bodies of two of his team members were found a few days later, and the body of the fourth was located just last weekend.

And the Afghan man and his family have fled the village for fear of reprisal from the Taliban, according to an interview with the man in Time magazine.

ABC News' Martha Raddatz originally reported this story for "Good Morning America."

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