Wednesday night, we introduced you to Private First Class Ryan Krumblis, an Army soldier with East Texas ties and a soldier with arguably the most dangerous job on the ground in Iraq. When they raid a house, to root out insurgents, he's the first one in the door.
Progress in the war in Iraq has come at a horrible price. More than 1100 coalition troops have died, one of those Private Krumblis' good friend.
"We're there. Everybody's there. Rank doesn't matter. When we get down time, we sit around and we all joke about what happened that day because laughter is the easiest way to do it," Krumblis told us during a recent visit on-leave.
There are moments of fun, times of relaxation, but never a moment goes by when they forget they're in a war zone.
Private First Class Ryan Krumblis spoke to us on a two week leave.
"We probably take small arms fire two to three times a day, and it's generally a small rate of fire, nothing too substantial," he says.
"As an infantryman, our biggest deal in a time of combat is your unit."
Ryan's platoon was called November 19 to a house in Mosul. Intelligence was Abu Musab Al- Zarqawi might have been inside. He's the rumored leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Another platoon was first in just ahead of Ryan's team.
"When they went in, they sent their first squad in, and you have to bottleneck. And what you do is called the 'Fatal Funnel,' you come from outside and you push in. When they did, the Syrians were ready," he says.
"As soon as the squad came in the door, they blew out the front of the house with these three rounds."
Three mortar blasts trapped three men inside. Ryan's buddy, Private Christopher Alcozer went in to rescue.
"He pulled the machine gunner out and to the side. He then pulled out the rifleman and as he was pulling him out of the house, he was shot in the back under the plate. He went down, he got back up."
Alcozer managed to drag one of his comrades to the medic. Then another burst of fire.
"In that process, he took two to three rounds in the side that killed him. There was shock. To that date, we really did not have a substantial firefight. We had small engagements here and there that had been very successful."
But now, reality truly set in. In Iraq, life really can be gone in an instant.
Donna is Ryan's mother.
"If we get the phone ringing at 4:30 in the morning, there's something wrong. But either he's shaken, or not nervous, but something's happened, and that's kind of scary," she says.
Like his mother, Ryan and his buddies count the days until their deployment is over.
Three and a half months.
"As the days get closer, everyone starts pulling a little more security. Everyone sits a bit lower in the hatches, but we still have a job to do, so we have to make sure it gets done," Ryan says.
When it is over, even when he leaves the Army. This team will still be together.
"I've got guys that I'll talk to from now on, until we're old men at the VFW."
His mother will forever be proud, and relieved.
"Knowing that his feet are going to be on U.S. soil for a couple of years, that he's going to be safer than he's been is going to be fantastic," she says.
Ryan believes the war effort is paying dividends. He says the Iraqi Army and police are improving all the time. If the Coalition withdraws now, Ryan says he's confident the country would plummet into civil war.
Reported by Morgan Palmer.