While the entire piece is absolutely worth reading and will capture your attention throughout, several passages stood out:
By the time Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ross Lewallen and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Chad Bardwell arrived over the embattled outpost, dubbed Camp Keating, parts were in flames and dozens of insurgents could be seen on the camp's perimeter.Read the entire piece here.
When the battle was over and the fire extinguished, many who survived had nothing left "except the clothes off their backs and the weapons in their hands," one soldier told ABC News.
Hunkered down inside the base's operations center were 1st Lt. Cason Shrode, 24, of Dallas, and Sgt. Jayson Souter, 22, of Tuscon, Ariz. The two men were working radios and directing traffic for the Apaches and attack jets that swarmed overhead.
But they knew the camp was ablaze and that insurgents had breached the camp's defenses and were inside the wire.
"It's definitely not a comfortable feeling to be at a place where you're most vulnerable, just not a comfortable feeling knowing these guys are right outside," Souter told ABC News.
The soldiers quickly realized the assault was much larger than any they had ever endured. The camp's generator was hit immediately, plunging the camp into pre-dawn darkness.
Soon the camp was on fire with strong winds fanning it along to additional buildings. Eventually, every building in the camp, except one, was burned.
"We were basically surrounded 360 degrees," Shrode said. "I think there were significant numbers [of enemy fighters] throughout the day."
He immediately called for air support.
"We had fixed wing [jets] 20 minutes after fight started," Shrode told ABC News. "We had helicopters 20 minutes later. ... We had so many different assets up in the air ... they were stacked on so many different levels."
ABC News had previously reported that when the Medevac flight arrived, some of the wounded refused a chance to leave Keating and kept on fighting. Soldiers also confirmed an earlier ABC News report that some troops gave blood during the fight to be transfused into wounded comrades.
When the attack was over, Souter and Shrode said the soldiers checked on each other and assessed the damage. The fire had destroyed much of the camp.
Lost in the blaze were "cameras, movies, stuff that helps you pass the time ... but there were guys who literally lost everything except the clothes off their backs and the weapons in their hands," Souter said. [Emphasis added.]
As the Commander-in-Chief deliberates, and deliberates some more, these brave and heroic soldiers cannot, must not, lose our nation's support.