Thursday, March 16, 2006, was a beautiful sunny day in Paktika Province, eastern Afghanistan. It borders a lawless region of Pakistan that is home to some al Qaeda and Taliban forces. Snow in the mountain passes along the border had melted giving them access again to Afghanistan where they came looking for American soldiers. They soon found them.
At dawn, the 10th Mountain Division's Alpha Company headed out on a mission. Lt. Billy Mariani, the unit commander, noticed something about his troops.
"There was definitely a sense of uneasiness. There was an air about them of, you know, maybe something was going to happen," he said.