After joining an airborne infantry unit in late 2003, Pvt. Mike Connolly found out that one company of infantry in the Maryland Guard would be heading to Iraq. The unit selected was not his, but was instead the one containing 1st Sgt. Don Connolly, Mike's father.
After finagling a transfer to the deploying unit, Connolly spent the first of two tours deployed to Anbar province, from May 2005 to May 2006. He then deployed again as part of the Surge from May 2007 to May 2008.
Related: 9 Photos Of Afghanistan In 2007 Through The Eyes Of One Marine »
While the U.S. military lost 844 service members in 2005 alone, Connolly's unit managed to get through the tour without any killed in combat operations, though one soldier, Pfc. Carlton Newman, was killed in a training accident in the pre-mobilization phase. Connolly’s father survived both tours as well. This is the unit’s story through the eyes of Pvt. Connolly.