Army Spc. Nathaniel Spindler was attacked on the outskirts of Fallujah nearly a year ago.
"I was falling out of the vehicle, trying not to, but trying not to fall out. The next thing I knew I was rolling down the asphalt with rounds kicking up around me from the enemy," he said.
The ambush happened on Spindler's 33rd mission into Fallujah. He recalls the mood there had slowly changed.
"At first when we went through, almost all the people were giving us thumbs up or waving and smiling and using the little bit of English they learned. As the days went by, we saw a few more people giving us hand gestures they had learned," Spindler said.
While Spindler recovered from a shoulder injury in the United States, Fallujah became a festering sore of insurgency and terrorism.
"It was always a scary time. We were right in the middle of bad guy country," said Col. Bob Adams, a doctor with the 82nd Airborne.
"Christmas morning I was blown out of bed by a bomb. That was an attempt to make our holiday less of a holiday," he said.
Adams treated soldiers who were wounded during the early fighting in Fallujah.
"Small casualties came in in the very beginning and mass casualties, happily, much later in the fight," he said.
Adams and Spindler are encouraged by the military's recent progress in Fallujah.
"It's something that has to be done," Spindler said.
"We all would have loved to have seen it happen sooner, but there's a more stable Iraq as this is happening," Adams said.
Spindler said despite being nearly killed in the attack, he does not hold a grudge against the people of Fallujah. He describes them as "regular people, in a bad situation."
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