updated 12/14/2005 12:57:48 PM ET 2005-12-14T17:57:48

They were teenage buddies, a close-knit group that knew each other from the ball fields of upstate New York. They whiled away their time jamming on guitar and playing video games. And then, one day they went to war together and became the Nighthawk platoon.

Lured by the promise of a fully paid-for college education, this group of friends joined the New York Army National Guard. None of them ever dreamed they would be deployed — and with good reason — no infantry unit from the New York Army National Guard had ever been sent into combat since World War II.

However, in October 2003 the 2nd battalion, 108th Infantry was told it was soon heading to Iraq. Seven friends left behind girlfriends, fiancees, parents, siblings and civilian life. Only six would make it back. Three of them would be seriously wounded. All of them would be changed forever.

After gaining rare access to these members of the platoon over the course of 10 months, NBC News' Tom Brokaw reports in one of the first documentaries exploring the personal cost of war on our nation's youth.

"Tom Brokaw Reports: To War and Back," airing on Sunday, Dec. 18 (8:00 PM/ET)," documents the Nighthawk platoon's struggles on the battlefield and the ones they faced coming home.

The broadcast documents the young men as they fight together in the same platoon and then as they try to adjust to their civilian lives. How would they cope with their compromised bodies, their altered minds? How would those they left behind accept them? In moving and candid interviews, Brokaw talks with the soldiers about their life-altering experience, and how they hope their futures will unfold.

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