U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Samantha Schwoch

From day one, the November 2004 offensive to clear Fallujah, Iraq, of enemy fighters was a grueling block-by-block fight. Deadly ambushes, booby-trapped houses, and an entrenched and well-prepared force of insurgent fighters harried the Marines every step of the way forward during the Second Battle of Fallujah. Eight days into the fight, it was just as unforgiving.

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Is there less courage on the battlefield today than during previous wars? If you only looked at the number of awards for valor presented to service members, you might get that impression. There’s been a noticeable decrease in valor citations issued during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, compared with previous conflicts. There are plenty of reasons for this, but a lack of bravery isn’t one of them.

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Screenshot via YouTube

On Nov. 10, 2004, during the Second Battle of Fallujah, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia’s platoon was ordered to clear a block where insurgents were firing on American forces.

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This time of year marks the anniversary of one of the most storied battles in recent Marine Corps history: the Second Battle of Fallujah. The city became the scene of brutal urban combat when American, Iraqi, and British forces launched an all out assault on Nov. 7, 2004, to seize it from Iraqi insurgent hands.

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Photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan C. Knauth

On Nov. 11, 2004, during the Second Battle of Fallujah, Sgt. Aubrey McDade Jr., was on his second deployment in Iraq as a machine-gun squad leader with 1st Marine Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment when his squad came under small arms and machine gun fire.

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