In the first episode of the series, we meet our band of brothers -- a squad of Georgia National Guardsmen -- in the last anxious days before their year-long deployment to the war in Iraq. As the clock winds down to the moment of truth, they comfort their families and relish their final moments in their hometown of Dublin, unsure what lies ahead of them in chaos of combat in a foreign land.
From newly married 21-year-old Spc. Matt Clements to Squad Leader Sgt. Steve Willis, a 40-year-old father of two, the men are determined to do their duty and are nervous about the unknown dangers they faces. Spc. Jamey Chalker tries to enjoy his twins' first birthday party while Sgt. Larry O'Neal accompanies his pregnant wife to the hospital for their first ultrasound. Soon, all the families will be on their own, left with little more than memories of their men and worries about their safe return.
As the soldiers report to their base and say their final goodbyes, the sacrifice and heroism of these small town heroes and their loved ones becomes heart-wrenchingly clear. As the families numbly return home, our American soldiers board a plane for the Middle East and fly off into the unknown, sustained by each other and one unifying hope: that they all make it back to Georgia.
As the families try to adjust to life on their own, our squad of Georgia National Guardsmen arrive in Kuwait and deplane into the hellish heat of the Middle East. Disoriented but determined, they prepare for a dangerous three-day convoy to their base near Baghdad, Iraq. They know they will face everything from small arms fire to roadside bombs called improvised explosive devices (IEDs). And when darkness falls, they huddle in the barracks and share their fears about the choice they may soon face: kill or be killed.
The wives and children are back home on the home front, waiting for that late-night phone call that will let them know the band of brothers is all right. On their own for the first time, Jamey's wife, Jenni, tries to comfort her toddler twins and Steve Willis' wife, Angie, shares her fears with her teenage daughter, Amanda. The soldiers are not the only ones who face sacrifices.
After Angie begs Steve to be careful, the squad embarks on their convoy, seeing Iraq -- and its dangers -- for the first time. They lock and load, drive day and night and prepare for the moment that they face their first attack. It will come soon enough.
After a dangerous convoy through Iraq to their base near Baghdad, the Georgia Guardsmen escape unharmed. But within hours of reaching Camp Striker, the brigade comes under mortar fire from Iraqi insurgents, an attack that leaves several Guardsmen severely wounded. The men call home to reassure their shaken families that they are all right, but all are stunned by how quickly their unit has taken casualties. The unit commander, Brig. Gen. Stewart Rodeheaver, leaves the base to explore the surrounding neighborhoods and quickly encounters an IED placed in a dead body by the side of the road.
Back at the base, our band of brothers fix up their tent to remind them of Georgia, while their families on the home front try to adjust to life on their own. It isn't easy. Angie Willis tries to keep her emotions in check when she talks to Steve after the mortar attack and Matt Clements' wife, Mendy, struggles to stay ahead of the bills that are streaming in. As their wives wrestle with their emotions and day-to-day problems, the soldiers set up shop at an outpost called the Alamo and get to work on their mission. Reality has set in.
Sergeant Larry O'Neal and Specialist Jamey Chalker prepare for their first mission outside the wire: to take part in a harrowing convoy that will take supplies from their base to smaller Marine encampments around Baghdad. In a nerve-wracking nighttime ride, they reach the first encampment, only to come under attack as soon as they get inside. Chalker escapes a near miss when an incoming explosion slams in behind him, and O'Neal tries to keep his nerves under control as mortar rounds come in one after the other.
The danger and the emotional separation soon take a toll both on the men and their families. Back at the base, Sgt. Willis weeps as he watches a video diary sent from home: His daughter, Amanda, has gotten a car for her 16th birthday, and he wishes he could be there to see it in person. As for Matt Clements, he and Mendy get into a heated fight over the phone because of their shaky financial situation. And while Larry makes it back to Camp Striker shaken but unhurt, his wife, Maritza, goes to the doctor to check on the health of their baby -- alone for the first time.
On duty seven days a week and worn down by the danger of their daily lives, our band of brothers have some fun -- by visiting one of Saddam Hussein's most outrageous palaces. Jamey Chalker gets a chance to do something he has wanted to do since arriving in Iraq -- sit on one of Saddam's bathroom thrones.
Soon after their return to base, one of Brig. Gen. Stewart Rodeheaver's vehicles breaks down while on patrol, forcing Willis and his men to come outside the wire to help. In the convoy that follows, the unit comes under attack again when an IED [improvised explosive device] explodes in the road ahead. With chopper support, guardsmen return fire as they hunt for the triggerman, and it is clear that death can come at any moment.
Back in Georgia, Angie Willis watches the Presidential address and wonders when her husband will be home. Matt and Mendy resolves their money issues, and the Chalker twins take their first steps -- something that Jamey watches in a video diary in his tent in Baghdad. Through these diaries -- and heart-wrenching letters -- the families retain their bond over a distance of thousands of miles.
For the Georgia Guardsmen, the action is nonstop. In a convoy with Brig. Gen. Stewart Rodeheaver, the Guard comes under attack again when an IED [improvised explosive device] explodes on a Baghdad highway, injuring several soldiers. Jamey Chalker goes outside the wire again to retrieve the remains of a car bomb that blew up under Baghdad bridge, and the unit makes a tense visit to the center of a local town.
In the wake of the violence, Sergeant Larry O'Neal goes on emergency leave for the happiest of reasons -- his first child is about to be born. As he leaves the band of brothers to return to Georgia, the other men must make do with letters and diaries from home, including one in which Sergeant Steve Willis watches his daughter go on her very first date.
Missing home more than ever, the men hunker down with more than 10 months to go. Already changed by their experience, they are still united by their bond and their one biggest desire -- that they all make it back home to their families.