This is crazy man... can't figure out the problem. It seems almost as if the diesel returns back to the fuel filter housing and air fills the void in the line, and the reason why it will start with a hit of ethel is because that initial explosion will suck the diesel in to the injectors.
Dig4h2o - Do you have the EDGE installed on your truck? I read your thread and you have already replaced and tested so many things... it's a mystery. Keep me posted with your progress, I have the same problem and can't seem to figure out.