Today, as the president gathers 30 members of Congress to the White House to discuss the future strategy in Afghanistan, the bodies of the dead come home to the Dover Air Force base in Delaware.
Among the dead are Pfc. Kevin Christopher Thomson, 22, from Reno, Nev., who had been Army for 18 months; Specialist Christopher Griffin, 24, of Kincheloe, Mich., who had previously served in Korea and served 15 months in Iraq; Sgt. Joshua Kirk from South Portland, Maine; and Specialist Michael Scusa from Villas, N.J., who recently celebrated the birthday of his 1-year-old son, Conner Allen, named after another fallen soldier.
The attack in Nuristan province, close to the border with Pakistan, began on Friday and raged through the weekend, U.S. army officials said. The military says more than 100 enemy fighters were killed during the attack that also injured 24 people.
The coordination included a .50 caliber machine gun -- a weapon so powerful it can blast through concretewalls -- positioned on a mountainside, firing directly at the smal army compound in the valley below. At the same time, other insurgents advanced from low-lying areas, surrounding the camp.
In addition, the Taliban set fire to the base and the blaze, fanned by high winds, began to consume the camp, forcing troops into a corner.
ABC News' Karen Russo, who was embedded with the Medevac unit that went to help the wounded soldiers Saturday night, was the only journalist at the scene.
"On the ground, it was difficult to see anything except for smoke from the conflict rising across the moonlight. It was difficult to hear any of the noise of the conflict because of the propellers of the helicopter. The area smelled of burned-out pine trees something one solider described as death and hell. The soldiers were quickly placed on the helicopter and received immediate medical attention," she said.
"There were actually several wounded and injured soldiers who were at these attacked bases who refused medical care. They stayed and fought while wounded because they didn't want to leave their base. They didn't actually have blood on the bases ... so the soldiers were actually giving blood, and they were quickly transfusing it into the soldiers who were wounded," Russo said.
The terrain in Nuristan is rocky and steep, but the U.S. outposts are located at the base of the mountain, deep in the valley so soldiers can be close to the local population. But the location also leaves soldiers vulnerable. Insurgents, watching from cliffs above, fire at troops constantly. Even going to the bathroom requires planning, making daily routine nearly impossible during daylight. At night, there are no lights and soldiers use night vision goggles or less detectable small red lights.
In the winter, temperatures can drop below zero at night, with snow and wind making it nearly impossible to do much more than wait.