The battle for the bridgeheads at Nasiriyah wore on through the afternoon of March 23. By the time it was over, 16 Marines were dead, including the forward artillery observer from the unit south of town, killed in a Humvee with at least three other Marines. At least two of the Marines presumably lost their lives coming to the rescue of the 507th. Among the 10 bodies retrieved by U.S. special forces troops who rescued Pfc. Jessica Lynch from an Iraqi hospital on April 2nd were eight soldiers from the 507th and two U.S. Marines.
All told, the 507th lost nine soldiers on March 23. Two other soldiers from Fort Stewart were also killed. The Army death toll was 11. At least two Marines — possibly more — were killed during the rescue of the ill-fated Maintenance Company and 14 others were killed in action in Nasiriyah.
At 27 confirmed dead, that bloody Sunday was the deadliest day of the war for the United States.
How did it happen? Since the incident, the U.S. Central Command has been mum. But on the day of the ambush, March 23, the briefing officer at command headquarters in Doha, Qatar, said this:
"As far as the incident concerning the convoy, I believe that it is probable, like many other tragic incidents in war, that a young officer, leading his convoy, made a wrong turn and went somewhere where he wasn't supposed to. There weren't combat forces around where it happened. Combat forces arrived at the scene and helped extricate some of the survivors. It's an unfortunate incident."
According to those who have seen the Army's preliminary report, none of the soldiers of the 507th will be disciplined for the events of March 23rd and at least two survivors — Sgt. Matthew Rose and Pfc. Patrick Miller — will be decorated with the Silver Star, one of the Army's highest honors, for gallantry in war. The bloodiest day of this latest battle in Iraq will be blamed, in the end, on the inevitable fog of war and a wrong turn.
ABCNEWS' Claire Weinraub contributed to this report.