In all the war in Iraq, there has been nothing like the battle of Fallujah, November 2004.
From the beginning, insurgents in Iraq have planted fields of hidden bombs, fired countless shots from sniper nests, and launched mortars and rockets onto opposing soldiers and civilians alike, but only once have insurgent forces tried to directly stand up and engage Coalition troops in head-on fighting.
The Battle of Fallujah was the most intense, sustained combat American forces have seen since Vietnam, and the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Bravo Company was right in the middle of it.
Over the past few months, I have traveled the country visiting with the troops of Bravo and others who witnessed Fallujah, trying to understand precisely what happened in that horrifying and relentless clash. What emerged is an extraordinary tale of heroism, survival, heartbreak, and success.
Insurgents claimed they could hold the city against the American onslaught; we found that they failed miserably.
Human rights advocates have said Fallujah involved a wholesale slaughter of civilians by American troops; we found no evidence to support that claim.
Critics have suggested the vastly superior U.S. technology is the only way Americans won; we found that in the tight corners and darkened houses of the city, much of the technology proved of little use, and American troops prevailed because of their superior training, discipline, and courage.
In this war, where so many days seems the same, the Battle of Fallujah remains a remarkable milestone. If you want to understand this war, you have to know Fallujah.
-- By Tom Foreman, CNN CorrespondentPreview: Snipers on the huntPreview: Marine down