Perspective and context.

awesomeness2:

sof-blog:

soldierporn:

Evening Quickie #soldierporn: Traffic jam.

Coalition force members waits for a herd of sheep to pass, so they can setup a helicopter landing zone in Balkh province, Afghanistan, Jan. 20, 2014. The troops were setting up the HLZ to return safely to FOB MES after participating in marksmanship training.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Stephen Cline, 20 JAN 2014.)

Some nice photo’s here. Take note of the “jumbo” American flag, I hear all to much that real operators don’t use them. Time to add this photo as well to my folder of argument ending photos. -Ed 

whats funny , is this could have also just been some place in Texas. 

[Except in Texas your ride home doesn’t run the risk of getting hit by an RPG. And hoofing it home doesn’t run you and your buddies an even greater risk of losing life and/or limb to an IED. Or a cranium to a sniper.

But yeah, suspiciously flat and arid and deceptively misleading as public affairs photos often are. Funny, they could be right here at home training somewhere. Funny how they aren’t. -R]

Ghost of fools’ gambit.
A donkey is tied to an old Russian tank in the Daymirdad District of Wardak province. U.S. Army soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division conducted a mission at the Daymirdad District Center that day.
(Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Sean P. Casey, 982nd Combat Camera, 9 JAN 2011.) High-res

Ghost of fools’ gambit.

A donkey is tied to an old Russian tank in the Daymirdad District of Wardak province. U.S. Army soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division conducted a mission at the Daymirdad District Center that day.

(Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Sean P. Casey, 982nd Combat Camera, 9 JAN 2011.)

USMC Lance Corporal Caleb L. Erickson. 28 FEB 2014.

Died in Helmand province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations. Erickson was assigned to 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Learning to pee in the tall grass.

Afghan National Army commandos of 2nd Company, 6th Special Operations Kandak, head out in military Stryker vehicle to conduct an operation near Kabul province, Afghanistan. Commandos are an elite group capable of conducting high-risk missions in remote areas to increase security, governance and development.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Connor Mendez, 24 FEB 2014.)

[When did ANSF graduate from up-armored HMMWV’s to up-armored Strykers; this happened while I was looking the other way, apparently. Oh well, if you’re gonna run with the Big Dogs… -R]

[Correction: The two center images are not Stryker vehicles but M1117’s, also known as MASV’s. The Military Armoured Security Vehicles shown here are heavily modified for MRAP characteristics, higher ground clearance, heavy shock absorption and axle assemblies, specifically for the OEF campaign. -R]

SOLDIER STORIES: Passing the torch.
U.S. Marine Sgt. Roger Merritt, a 26-year-old squad leader with the 81mm Mortar Platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and native of Horn Lake, Miss., stands with Afghan National Army Sgt. Shabaz while clearing houses of insurgent activity. Drawing on nine years of experience and three previous combat deployments to Iraq, Merritt is focused on teaching ANA sergeants how to fulfill their duties and leadership responsibilities.
(Photo and article by Corporal Reece Lodder, 6 FEB 2012.)
This is the third installment in a series featuring members of the Afghan National Security Forces, and the Marines and sailors serving with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, during their 2011-2012 deployment to Afghanistan’s Helmand province. Many are infantrymen, others are combat support, but each is the face of a historic transition in the making. They are the unique ingredients in a melting pot of servicemembers devoted to preparing the ANSF to assume lead security responsibility in Garmsir district.BANADAR, Helmand province, Afghanistan — A jagged line of boot prints ends at the edge of a dusty field tended by Afghan farmers, signaling the Marines have halted their patrol.Armed with his interpreter and a warm smile, Sgt. Roger Merritt amiably greets the men. They casually discuss farming and local education, alternating between Pashto and Merritt’s smooth southern drawl. His men spread around him, take a knee and provide security as their squad leader converses with the farmers.On the furthest edge, Lance Cpl. Garrett Reed embeds himself in the dirt and grips his machine gun. He slowly scans the outlying fields, his eyes concealed behind a dark pair of ballistic sunglasses.The two Marines are far apart in rank, billet and experience, but on their first — and likely last — combat deployment to Afghanistan’s Helmand province, they’re part of a historic transition in Garmsir district.During their seven months spent here, Merritt and Reed, mortarmen with the 81 mm mortar platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, are working to quell insurgent activity and mentor members of the Afghan National Army. These men are among the growing Afghan forces that will soon take the lead in securing Garmsir on their own.The stern, battle-hardened Merritt exercises leadership over a squad of 12 Marines. He’s labored through three combat deployments to Iraq, maturing through heavy combat and furthering his skills mentoring the Iraqi Army.Between his deployments, the 26-year-old from Horn Lake, Miss., devoted three years to training new Marines as mortarmen at the School of Infantry—East aboard Camp Geiger, N.C. He’s grown as a leader over nine years of training and combat, and now uses his experience to teach his men.“As their leader, I need to be disciplined and strict with them,” Merritt said. “But I also have to mentor them to think on their own and take initiative … to help them mature and become leaders. In some time, they’re going to find themselves in a position of responsibility. For now, it’s up to me to see they grow up to be good ones.”Though he is still a junior Marine and doesn’t yet hold a leadership billet, Reed also fills an important position within his squad. On patrol, he serves as the squad automatic weapon gunner. When the situation requires it — such as a detainment or weapons cache find — he performs a tactical site exploitation to collect information and document the scene.“Despite the little leadership responsibility I have in our squad, I’m ready at any time for what Sgt. Merritt needs to get done,” said the 22-year-old Reed, a native of Plano, Texas. “I always need to be prepared to take on more than has been assigned to me.”As Reed progresses in his service and experience, he’ll step into a billet where he has Marines under his charge. He’s led his peers in high school and college sports, but acknowledged leading Marines in combat was very different.“A leader’s decision can be the difference between bringing his men home or not,” he said.During his time spent under Merritt’s charge in both garrison and combat, Reed is developing his own style by drawing on his squad leader’s experience and example.“Even though this is his fourth deployment and he’s very senior to us, he’s not afraid to ask our opinions on things,” Reed said. “He always tells us, ‘Your Marines don’t work for you; you work for them.’ He goes out of his way to take care of us, whether this in the battle zone or back at home.”The two Marines’ responsibilities differ greatly in their squad, but they share the task of mentoring their Afghan counterparts. At their small position, Patrol Base 00, they live and operate with ANA soldiers.“Marines like Sgt. Merritt and Lance Cpl. Reed are teaching and mentoring the Afghan forces, not just telling them what they need to do and stepping back … they want the Afghan National Security Forces to be successful,” said Sgt. Maj. Andrew Cece, their battalion’s senior enlisted leader. “They’re giving everything they’ve got to provide the Afghan forces with the tools to be a strong military force once the Marines are gone.”While Merritt is called to be a mentor and example to his Marines, he carries his leadership across the fence to mentor his Afghan counterparts. He uses the knowledge he’s gained training the Iraqi Army to prepare ANA sergeants to fulfill their duties and leadership responsibilities.On the infantry side, he leads them through immediate action drills, escalation of force procedures, combat hunter training and mortar classes. From an administrative perspective, he mentors on properly creating watch rosters and tracking logistics statistics.Though he deals with a wide array of ANA soldiers, Merritt focuses on teaching the ANA sergeants to understand their role as a professional leader.“My challenge is teaching them how to lead in the absence of their superiors,” Merritt said. “Their soldiers won’t do anything wrong if the commander is around, but they should feel the same way when a sergeant is there … and the sergeant should hold them to that standard.”When partnering on security patrols and operations, Reed uses his knowledge to mentor ANA soldiers on patrolling techniques and the conduct of vehicle checkpoints. “When I’m working with them on my level, they can see there are important tasks I have to manage,” Reed said. “Even though I don’t have a leadership billet, there are still essential roles I need to fill to help keep our squad safe.”In the relatively quiet Garmsir district, Reed’s day-to-day activities are much different than what he had expected on his first deployment. The partnered efforts of ANSF and coalition forces have rooted out insurgent activity, rendering firefights and improvised explosive device attacks both infrequent and unsuccessful.Regardless, Reed said he is proud to serve in Garmsir and aid in transferring the district’s security responsibility back to Afghan forces. Shaped by further experience and a similar perspective, his senior leader agrees.“Our mission isn’t going out and getting into firefights every day; it’s helping the Afghan forces and their people to stand up on their own,” Merritt said.Though on different levels of leadership, Merritt and Reed are making their unique mark on a growing force of Afghan soldiers. They have passed the halfway point of their deployment but their work is not yet complete.“The most important thing leaders like Merritt and Reed can leave with the Afghan forces are the leadership traits and principles Marines live by every day,” Cece said. “If the Afghan forces can grasp this focus, all the other attributes of a strong military force will prevail.” High-res

SOLDIER STORIES: Passing the torch.

U.S. Marine Sgt. Roger Merritt, a 26-year-old squad leader with the 81mm Mortar Platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and native of Horn Lake, Miss., stands with Afghan National Army Sgt. Shabaz while clearing houses of insurgent activity. Drawing on nine years of experience and three previous combat deployments to Iraq, Merritt is focused on teaching ANA sergeants how to fulfill their duties and leadership responsibilities.

(Photo and article by Corporal Reece Lodder, 6 FEB 2012.)

This is the third installment in a series featuring members of the Afghan National Security Forces, and the Marines and sailors serving with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, during their 2011-2012 deployment to Afghanistan’s Helmand province. Many are infantrymen, others are combat support, but each is the face of a historic transition in the making. They are the unique ingredients in a melting pot of servicemembers devoted to preparing the ANSF to assume lead security responsibility in Garmsir district.

BANADAR, Helmand province, Afghanistan — A jagged line of boot prints ends at the edge of a dusty field tended by Afghan farmers, signaling the Marines have halted their patrol.

Armed with his interpreter and a warm smile, Sgt. Roger Merritt amiably greets the men. They casually discuss farming and local education, alternating between Pashto and Merritt’s smooth southern drawl. His men spread around him, take a knee and provide security as their squad leader converses with the farmers.

On the furthest edge, Lance Cpl. Garrett Reed embeds himself in the dirt and grips his machine gun. He slowly scans the outlying fields, his eyes concealed behind a dark pair of ballistic sunglasses.

The two Marines are far apart in rank, billet and experience, but on their first — and likely last — combat deployment to Afghanistan’s Helmand province, they’re part of a historic transition in Garmsir district.

During their seven months spent here, Merritt and Reed, mortarmen with the 81 mm mortar platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, are working to quell insurgent activity and mentor members of the Afghan National Army. These men are among the growing Afghan forces that will soon take the lead in securing Garmsir on their own.

The stern, battle-hardened Merritt exercises leadership over a squad of 12 Marines. He’s labored through three combat deployments to Iraq, maturing through heavy combat and furthering his skills mentoring the Iraqi Army.

Between his deployments, the 26-year-old from Horn Lake, Miss., devoted three years to training new Marines as mortarmen at the School of Infantry—East aboard Camp Geiger, N.C. He’s grown as a leader over nine years of training and combat, and now uses his experience to teach his men.

“As their leader, I need to be disciplined and strict with them,” Merritt said. “But I also have to mentor them to think on their own and take initiative … to help them mature and become leaders. In some time, they’re going to find themselves in a position of responsibility. For now, it’s up to me to see they grow up to be good ones.”

Though he is still a junior Marine and doesn’t yet hold a leadership billet, Reed also fills an important position within his squad. On patrol, he serves as the squad automatic weapon gunner. When the situation requires it — such as a detainment or weapons cache find — he performs a tactical site exploitation to collect information and document the scene.

“Despite the little leadership responsibility I have in our squad, I’m ready at any time for what Sgt. Merritt needs to get done,” said the 22-year-old Reed, a native of Plano, Texas. “I always need to be prepared to take on more than has been assigned to me.”

As Reed progresses in his service and experience, he’ll step into a billet where he has Marines under his charge. He’s led his peers in high school and college sports, but acknowledged leading Marines in combat was very different.

“A leader’s decision can be the difference between bringing his men home or not,” he said.

During his time spent under Merritt’s charge in both garrison and combat, Reed is developing his own style by drawing on his squad leader’s experience and example.

“Even though this is his fourth deployment and he’s very senior to us, he’s not afraid to ask our opinions on things,” Reed said. “He always tells us, ‘Your Marines don’t work for you; you work for them.’ He goes out of his way to take care of us, whether this in the battle zone or back at home.”

The two Marines’ responsibilities differ greatly in their squad, but they share the task of mentoring their Afghan counterparts. At their small position, Patrol Base 00, they live and operate with ANA soldiers.

“Marines like Sgt. Merritt and Lance Cpl. Reed are teaching and mentoring the Afghan forces, not just telling them what they need to do and stepping back … they want the Afghan National Security Forces to be successful,” said Sgt. Maj. Andrew Cece, their battalion’s senior enlisted leader. “They’re giving everything they’ve got to provide the Afghan forces with the tools to be a strong military force once the Marines are gone.”

While Merritt is called to be a mentor and example to his Marines, he carries his leadership across the fence to mentor his Afghan counterparts. He uses the knowledge he’s gained training the Iraqi Army to prepare ANA sergeants to fulfill their duties and leadership responsibilities.

On the infantry side, he leads them through immediate action drills, escalation of force procedures, combat hunter training and mortar classes. From an administrative perspective, he mentors on properly creating watch rosters and tracking logistics statistics.

Though he deals with a wide array of ANA soldiers, Merritt focuses on teaching the ANA sergeants to understand their role as a professional leader.

“My challenge is teaching them how to lead in the absence of their superiors,” Merritt said. “Their soldiers won’t do anything wrong if the commander is around, but they should feel the same way when a sergeant is there … and the sergeant should hold them to that standard.”

When partnering on security patrols and operations, Reed uses his knowledge to mentor ANA soldiers on patrolling techniques and the conduct of vehicle checkpoints. 

“When I’m working with them on my level, they can see there are important tasks I have to manage,” Reed said. “Even though I don’t have a leadership billet, there are still essential roles I need to fill to help keep our squad safe.”

In the relatively quiet Garmsir district, Reed’s day-to-day activities are much different than what he had expected on his first deployment. The partnered efforts of ANSF and coalition forces have rooted out insurgent activity, rendering firefights and improvised explosive device attacks both infrequent and unsuccessful.

Regardless, Reed said he is proud to serve in Garmsir and aid in transferring the district’s security responsibility back to Afghan forces. Shaped by further experience and a similar perspective, his senior leader agrees.

“Our mission isn’t going out and getting into firefights every day; it’s helping the Afghan forces and their people to stand up on their own,” Merritt said.

Though on different levels of leadership, Merritt and Reed are making their unique mark on a growing force of Afghan soldiers. They have passed the halfway point of their deployment but their work is not yet complete.

“The most important thing leaders like Merritt and Reed can leave with the Afghan forces are the leadership traits and principles Marines live by every day,” Cece said. “If the Afghan forces can grasp this focus, all the other attributes of a strong military force will prevail.”

Unbreakable.
Cpl. Matt Garst is unbreakable. The squad leader from Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, stood on his own free will immediately after triggering an anti-personnel, improvised explosive device directly beneath his feet, which sent him tumbling six feet up and 15 feet through the air before landing on his limp head and shoulders during a patrol to the east of his company’s newly established observation post in Southern Shorsurak, Helmand province, Afghanistan, as part of Operation New Dawn, June 23. Thanks to luck, Garst’s tenacity, and mistakes by the enemy, the IED comprised of three liters of homemade explosive only partially detonated and Garst absorbed the blast unharmed, hold for feeling “like hell” the next day. Garst, from Charlotte, N.C., led his Marines the four miles back to their post after the blast. Following a day of recovery, he began patrolling efforts again. “I’m an aggressive person,” Garst said. “It pissed me off. All I want to do is make sure it doesn’t happen again. I’m just happy it wasn’t any of my guys. I’m not happy to get blown up by any means. I would have loved for it to have never happened. But, if it’s going to be anyone I’d rather it be me, and if it’s going to be a bomb, I’d rather it be that bomb, because it didn’t do shit.” Operation New Dawn is a joint operation between Marine Corps units and the Afghanistan National Army to disrupt enemy forces, which have been using the sparsely populated region between Marjah and Nawa as a safe haven.
(Photo and article by Sergeant Mark Fayloga, 23 JUN 2010.)
SOUTHERN SHORSURAK, Afghanistan — Cpl. Matt Garst should be dead.Few people survive stepping on an improvised explosive device. Even fewer walk away the same day after directly absorbing the force of the blast, but Garst did just that.A squad leader with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Garst was leading his squad on a patrol in Southern Shorsurak, Afghanistan, June 23 to establish a vehicle checkpoint in support of Operation New Dawn. The men were four miles from Lima Company’s newly established observation post when they approached an abandoned compound close to where they needed to set up their checkpoint. It would serve well as an operating base — a place for the squad to set up communications and rotate Marines in and out of. But first, it had to be secured.As they swept the area with a metal detector, the IED registered no warning on the device. The bomb was buried too deep and its metallic signature too weak. Two men walked over it without it detonating. At six feet, two inches tall and 260 pounds with all his gear on, Garst is easily the largest man in his squad by 30 or 40 pounds — just enough extra weight to trigger the IED buried deep in hard-packed soil.Lance Cpl. Edgar Jones, a combat engineer with the squad, found a pressure plate inside the compound and hollered to Garst, asking what he should do with it. Garst turned around to answer the Marine and stepped on the bomb. “I can just barely remember the boom,” Garst said. “I remember the start of a loud noise and then I blacked out.”Since Garst’s improbable run-in with the IED, his tale has spread through the rest of the battalion, and as often happens in combat units, the story mutates, the tale becoming more and more extraordinary about what happened next: He held onto his rifle the whole time … He actually landed on his feet … He remained unmoved, absorbing the impact like he was muffling a fart in a crowded elevator …What really happened even eludes Garst. All went black after the earth uppercut him. When he came to, he was standing on his feet holding his weapon, turning to see the remnants of the blast and wondering why his squad had a look on their faces as if they’d seen a ghost.Marines in Lima Company think Garst is the luckiest guy in the battalion, and while that may seem a fair assessment, it was the enemy’s shoddy work that left Garst standing. The three-liters of homemade explosive only partially detonated.Marines who witnessed the event from inside the compound caught glimpses of Garst’s feet flailing through the air just above the other side of the building’s eight-foot walls. The explosion knocked him at least fifteen feet away where he landed on his limp head and shoulders before immediately standing back up.Not quite sure of what had just happened, Garst turned back toward the blast, now nothing but a column of dirt and smoke rising toward the sun.“My first thought was, ‘Oh s—-, I just hit an IED,’” he said. “Then I thought, ‘Well I’m standing. That’s good.’”Garst’s squad stared at him in disbelief. The square-jawed Marine has a tendency to be short-tempered, and the realization that the blast was meant to kill him spiked his adrenaline and anger.“It pissed me off,” he said.He directed his men to establish a security perimeter while letting them know in his own way that he was OK.“What the f—- are you looking at?” he said. “Get on the cordon!”Garst quickly radioed back to base, calling an explosive ordnance disposal team and quick reaction force.“I called them and said, ‘hey, I just got blown up. Get ready,’” he said. “The guy thought I was joking at first. ‘You got blown up? You’re not calling me. Get out of here.’”Once EOD cleared the area, Garst led his squad the four miles back to their observation post — just hours after being ragdolled by an IED blast.“I wasn’t going to let anybody else take my squad back after they’d been there for me,” he said. “That’s my job.”The next day Garst awoke with a pounding headache and was as sore as he’d ever been in his life.“Just getting up from trying to sleep was painful,” he said.But he saw no reason being sore should slow him down. He popped some ibuprofen and after a day of rest, Garst was back out on patrol, showing his Marines and the enemy that just like his resolve — Garst is unbreakable. High-res

Unbreakable.

Cpl. Matt Garst is unbreakable. The squad leader from Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, stood on his own free will immediately after triggering an anti-personnel, improvised explosive device directly beneath his feet, which sent him tumbling six feet up and 15 feet through the air before landing on his limp head and shoulders during a patrol to the east of his company’s newly established observation post in Southern Shorsurak, Helmand province, Afghanistan, as part of Operation New Dawn, June 23. Thanks to luck, Garst’s tenacity, and mistakes by the enemy, the IED comprised of three liters of homemade explosive only partially detonated and Garst absorbed the blast unharmed, hold for feeling “like hell” the next day. Garst, from Charlotte, N.C., led his Marines the four miles back to their post after the blast. Following a day of recovery, he began patrolling efforts again. “I’m an aggressive person,” Garst said. “It pissed me off. All I want to do is make sure it doesn’t happen again. I’m just happy it wasn’t any of my guys. I’m not happy to get blown up by any means. I would have loved for it to have never happened. But, if it’s going to be anyone I’d rather it be me, and if it’s going to be a bomb, I’d rather it be that bomb, because it didn’t do shit.” Operation New Dawn is a joint operation between Marine Corps units and the Afghanistan National Army to disrupt enemy forces, which have been using the sparsely populated region between Marjah and Nawa as a safe haven.

(Photo and article by Sergeant Mark Fayloga, 23 JUN 2010.)

SOUTHERN SHORSURAK, Afghanistan — Cpl. Matt Garst should be dead.

Few people survive stepping on an improvised explosive device. Even fewer walk away the same day after directly absorbing the force of the blast, but Garst did just that.

A squad leader with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Garst was leading his squad on a patrol in Southern Shorsurak, Afghanistan, June 23 to establish a vehicle checkpoint in support of Operation New Dawn. 

The men were four miles from Lima Company’s newly established observation post when they approached an abandoned compound close to where they needed to set up their checkpoint. It would serve well as an operating base — a place for the squad to set up communications and rotate Marines in and out of. But first, it had to be secured.

As they swept the area with a metal detector, the IED registered no warning on the device. The bomb was buried too deep and its metallic signature too weak. Two men walked over it without it detonating. 

At six feet, two inches tall and 260 pounds with all his gear on, Garst is easily the largest man in his squad by 30 or 40 pounds — just enough extra weight to trigger the IED buried deep in hard-packed soil.

Lance Cpl. Edgar Jones, a combat engineer with the squad, found a pressure plate inside the compound and hollered to Garst, asking what he should do with it. Garst turned around to answer the Marine and stepped on the bomb. 

“I can just barely remember the boom,” Garst said. “I remember the start of a loud noise and then I blacked out.”

Since Garst’s improbable run-in with the IED, his tale has spread through the rest of the battalion, and as often happens in combat units, the story mutates, the tale becoming more and more extraordinary about what happened next: He held onto his rifle the whole time … He actually landed on his feet … He remained unmoved, absorbing the impact like he was muffling a fart in a crowded elevator …

What really happened even eludes Garst. All went black after the earth uppercut him. When he came to, he was standing on his feet holding his weapon, turning to see the remnants of the blast and wondering why his squad had a look on their faces as if they’d seen a ghost.

Marines in Lima Company think Garst is the luckiest guy in the battalion, and while that may seem a fair assessment, it was the enemy’s shoddy work that left Garst standing. The three-liters of homemade explosive only partially detonated.

Marines who witnessed the event from inside the compound caught glimpses of Garst’s feet flailing through the air just above the other side of the building’s eight-foot walls. The explosion knocked him at least fifteen feet away where he landed on his limp head and shoulders before immediately standing back up.

Not quite sure of what had just happened, Garst turned back toward the blast, now nothing but a column of dirt and smoke rising toward the sun.

“My first thought was, ‘Oh s—-, I just hit an IED,’” he said. “Then I thought, ‘Well I’m standing. That’s good.’”

Garst’s squad stared at him in disbelief. The square-jawed Marine has a tendency to be short-tempered, and the realization that the blast was meant to kill him spiked his adrenaline and anger.

“It pissed me off,” he said.

He directed his men to establish a security perimeter while letting them know in his own way that he was OK.

“What the f—- are you looking at?” he said. “Get on the cordon!”

Garst quickly radioed back to base, calling an explosive ordnance disposal team and quick reaction force.

“I called them and said, ‘hey, I just got blown up. Get ready,’” he said. “The guy thought I was joking at first. ‘You got blown up? You’re not calling me. Get out of here.’”

Once EOD cleared the area, Garst led his squad the four miles back to their observation post — just hours after being ragdolled by an IED blast.

“I wasn’t going to let anybody else take my squad back after they’d been there for me,” he said. “That’s my job.”

The next day Garst awoke with a pounding headache and was as sore as he’d ever been in his life.

“Just getting up from trying to sleep was painful,” he said.

But he saw no reason being sore should slow him down. He popped some ibuprofen and after a day of rest, Garst was back out on patrol, showing his Marines and the enemy that just like his resolve — Garst is unbreakable.

Angry little birds.
Two OH-58 Kiowa helicopters with Task Force Attack, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, take off from Forward Operating Base Fenty on a reconnaissance mission. The Kiowa is vital to reconnaissance and intelligence gathering missions throughout Afghanistan.
(Photo by Specialist Joseph Green, 14 FEB 2014.) High-res

Angry little birds.

Two OH-58 Kiowa helicopters with Task Force Attack, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, take off from Forward Operating Base Fenty on a reconnaissance mission. The Kiowa is vital to reconnaissance and intelligence gathering missions throughout Afghanistan.

(Photo by Specialist Joseph Green, 14 FEB 2014.)

USMC Master Sergeant Aaron C. Torian. 15 FEB 2014.

Died of wounds sustained from a detonated improved explosive device while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Torian was assigned to 2nd MSOB, Marine Special Operations Regiment, MARSOC out of Camp Legeune, North Carolina.