The assault on Fallujah has already made November the second-bloodiest month for U.S. troops in Iraq.
Since the offensive began two weeks ago, 51 have died, and troops from North Carolina have borne a heavy share of that burden.
Fourteen soldiers from North Carolina bases or hometowns have died in fighting and accidents in Iraq this month, six of them last week. Here are some of their stories.
Marshall Hugh Caddy volunteered to go to Iraq because he wanted to make a difference. He died Tuesday on a dark road in Khaladiyah believing that he had.
"He believed in what he was doing," said his mother, Shelia Williamson of Kill Devil Hills. "He did not have any reservations. He was trying to do what he was trained to do, as he kept telling me."
Caddy, who went by the name Hugh, was 27. He died when the Humvee he was traveling in struck a tank, his parents said.
Caddy, who had been in the Army for eight years, grew up in coastal North Carolina, first in Perquimans County and then on the Outer Banks. He loved to hunt, surf and hang out with friends.
After graduating from Manteo High School in 1996, he attended community college and worked odd jobs. But before long, he decided he wanted more than the aimless life of a beach bum, his mother says.
"He said, 'Mom, there's nothing here that I'm ever going to make a career out of, and I see too many people who aren't going anywhere,' " Williamson said. "He came home, cut his hair and joined the Army."
Caddy originally enlisted for four years, then signed up for another six-year tour. He spent most of his time based at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, before being sent to Korea for a year. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Greaves, Korea.
He came home for a short while, then volunteered to go to Iraq, Williamson said. He led a platoon of infantry soldiers.
She said he often called and sent e-mails with stories of a devastated country. She said he thought he was helping Iraqis rebuild their country.
He was involved in the assault on Fallujah, and called home recently to tell his mother he was safe but it had been a "scary time."
Williamson was sitting down to dinner Tuesday when two uniformed officers knocked on her door. "I kept telling them they had the wrong place," she said. "I still don't believe it."
Cpl. Nicholas L. Ziolkowski began planning a military career in ninth grade, his mother told The Associated Press, running several miles a day and "working out constantly."
He had been in Iraq since June and was due to return to the United States in February.
But on Nov. 14, the 22-year-old from Towson, Md., was killed in fighting in Fallujah, the Department of Defense said Monday.
He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune.
Ziolkowski joined the Marines in 2001 shortly after graduating from Boys' Latin School, his mother, Tracy Miller, said Monday night.
Lance Cpl. Bradley L. Parker of Marion, W.Va., died Monday "as a result of enemy action" in Anbar Province, the agency said.
Parker, 19, was a member of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Lejeune.