"It was like the whole sky was shouting."
That is how our friend and colleague, Ihsan, described the most terrifying day of his life.
"It's like nothing we can feel or hear in a theater. It's indescribable."
Earlier this summer, Ihsan was strolling through a field to stretch his legs after spending the night on a concrete slab. Ihsan and other members of our team were stuck waiting outside a checkpoint near Fallujah. ISIS had mounted a counterattack in the area, and checkpoints and roads had been closed, meaning our aid team was forced to sleep outside on a cement slab in a warzone.
That morning, just as they thought they would finally be allowed to leave, the "sky shouted." A low-flying U.S. warplane mistook our cars for an ISIS convoy.
The first missile knocked him to the ground.
He got back up, dazed, and stumbled for cover toward the nearby checkpoint. The guards, also frightened, raised their rifles at him and demanded he turn back. As he ran back toward the convoy, the second missile hit. Pebbles and other debris embedded itself in his skin. His ears rang.
Ihsan dove for cover, thinking he was about to die. He called a friend and shouted into the phone, "WE'RE BEING BOMBED BY AIRSTRIKES!"
Then his battery died.
After all that, would you go back to Fallujah?
Just thinking about Ihsan back in Baghdad later that night, sitting on the bathroom floor of his hotel room, stunned and silently picking debris out of his skin... it's painful. We love him dearly. We felt very nervous for him to go back to Fallujah after all that, but he chose to go anyway.
He and a truckload of aid are back in Fallujah to welcome the first returnees home.
When I asked if he was nervous his quiet reply was so beautiful:
"Yes, but I want to see them go home."
Watch for more updates from from Fallujah, as we welcome the first families to return!