2nd Div. Marines make Mehraj safe

Afghan children curiously stare at the Marines patrolling through the streets. The area was infested with insurgent forces just a few months ago. According to a linguist with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, the local residents slowly returned to their homes with the increased security and feel safer knowing the enemy threat has virtually faded.

Marine photo

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. Lance Cpl. Kyle Wilcox, a Kilo Company squad automatic weapon gunner, 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, 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 the insurgents, it makes these people’s lives easier,” Wilcox said. “The guys and I just want to make this a better place for 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, logging more than 600 hours of dismounted and mounted patrols and standing 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 watchtowers 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 Lance Cpl. Dustin Summerville. “It helps us push the insurgents out, and provide better security for the land and for the people of Afghanistan.”