PATROL BASE MEHRAJ, Helmand province, Afghanistan --
Every drop of sweat from their foreheads cools their faces as Marines patrol through the Afghan heat. Every cautious step through the cratered terrain and dusty roads is a step closer to completing the mission. Every hour spent standing watch brings them closer to the sweet smell of home-cooked meals or catching the big game on a Monday night.
The Marines with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, brave the hardships of enemy attacks and improvised explosive devices to force the insurgents out of their area, making it a safer place for the local citizens.
They do it for the love of their country, friends, family and each other. Marines like Tampa Bay, Fla., native Lance Cpl. Kyle Wilcox said it’s difficult to put into words, but he knows the importance of the job he’s here to do. He said he fights for the betterment of this war-torn country and for his fellow brothers in arms lost trying to do the same.
“I’m out here just doing my job, you know, and I’ve seen what these insurgents are capable of. They harass the (local) people; they threaten them, steal from them. So by us getting rid of them, it makes these people’s lives easier,” said the 20-year-old squad automatic weapon gunner with the unit. “Me and the guys just want to make this a better place for these people to live, and I will continue to pursue this for the guys who gave everything trying to do the same.”
Wilcox’s unit has been out here for more than four months and has put in more than 600 hours of dismounted and mounted patrols and stood watch in excess of 125 days.
One considerable accomplishment for them was building an observation post atop a hill about a mile and a half from their original patrol base. The post was built with three wooden watch towers and a berthing area for the Marines to rest in. One Marine said he takes great pride in it because it was built with nothing but small combat shovels, barriers, wood and sweat.
“We’ve done a lot of great things … and one of those things was building a new observation post,” explained Maryville, Tenn., native Lance Cpl. Dustin Summerville. “It helps us push the insurgents out more and provide better security for the land and for the people of Afghanistan.”
Editor’s note: The battalion is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.