FALLUJAH, Iraq -- For two Marines from 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, the pain of being away from home is eased by the memories they can share of growing up in the same area.
Gunnery Sgts. Larry J. Harrington and Darren Stewart grew up in small towns in North Carolina. Harrington hails from Gastonia and Stewart is from Bessemer City. The two towns are neighbors to each other, separated by less than 10 miles.
The friends initially met through a friend of theirs in high school.
“We knew each other through acquaintances before we joined the Marine Corps, but not as well as we do now,” Stewart said.
“There was this girl that we were both kind of sweet on back in the day, and we met each other through her,” said Harrington.
The rivalry that was sparked there carried over to the football fields and basketball courts.
“We had a mutual friendship after that,” added Harrington. “We played against each other in football and used to always go to Brian Berger Park to play basketball. That was like the hangout spot so we always ran into each other there.”
The road after graduation led to the Marines for both men.
“I joined up first, probably about a year earlier,” said Stewart. “I didn’t even know he had joined up until about five years later when I ran into him again.”
“We were both drill instructors at Parris Island when we next saw each other,” said Harrington. “I was with 3rd Battalion, and he was with Second.”
Stewart says that Harrington didn’t have much influence on him as far as joining the Marine Corps. Harrington, however, says Stewart did affect him.
“When people you know join up, you always wonder how it will be,” said Harrington. “It’s cool having people you know in the military, especially when you are a junior Marine.”
Their careers led them to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, where they are the company gunnery sergeants for Company F, Harrington and Company E, Stewart.
“We bounce ideas off each other all the time,” said Stewart. “I support him, he supports me. Sometimes he has better ideas than I do, well most of the time actually.”