Military Field Manual For the Transport and Care of Abominable Snowmen.

California Army National Guard’s Bravo Company 1-126th Aviation Regiment, Delta Schooners, based out of Stockton, flew two of their CH-47 Chinooks to the Marines Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., high in the Sierra mountains to support Hawaiian-based 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines conducting high elevation training. More than 600 snow-clad Marines armed to the teeth and packed for an extended stay in snow conditions were airlifted to their landing zones in multiple insertions. During the operation Utah Army National Guard’s 1-211th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion AH-64 Apache helicopters circled above providing protection to the Marines who were made up of weapon and mortar platoons, to name a few.

(U.S. Army National Guard photos by Master Sgt. Paul Wade, 28 MAR 2014.)

SOLDIER STORIES: Life preserving message.
Marine veteran Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Arbogast in the pool at the 2012 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 
(Courtesy photo, 24 APR 2012. Article by Molly O’Toole, 24 SEP 2013, Huffington Post.)
When Jeremiah Arbogast entered the home of his former boss, a Marine staff sergeant, he was wearing a body wire hooked up by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which was listening from a nearby car.
"I need to know what happened," Arbogast told the staff sergeant in 2001. "I need to get help. I can’t get help if I don’t know what happened."
The man began to coolly list everything he had done to Arbogast, recounting his rape.
"I don’t know what possessed him to just be like, ‘I did this, this and this, and that’s that,’" Arbogast said. "No remorse, no nothing." Arbogast got his rapist’s full confession on tape, but the process severely traumatized him — again.
The staff sergeant was convicted by court martial in 2002, given merely a “bad conduct” discharge from the Marines. But Arbogast’s ordeal went on for seven more years of severe depression, nightmares and insomnia. He had trouble concentrating; his mind would wander back to the rape. He swung abruptly from rage to numbness. He got divorced. Then got remarried. He drank. Nothing worked.

In 2009, Arbogast aimed a gun “right dead in the chest, where my heart would be, where my pain was.” He missed and became partially paralyzed.

His wife told him, “You’ve got a gift now. You’ve been given a new life in death and you’ve got to do something with it.”
Men accounted for only about 12 percent of reported military sexual assault cases in fiscal year 2012. But more men than women are sexually assaulted each year in the military, given that men make up some 85 percent of service members, notes Michael Matthews, a close friend of Arbogast. Matthews’ own experience as a veteran and victim of rape served as the catalyst for "Justice Denied," a documentary about male military sexual assault survivors.
Back in 1998, when Arbogast joined the Marines just after high school, no one was talking about these issues. He started as a motor transport operator, and later served as a lance corporal in a weapons training battalion. He was preparing to deploy to Okinawa, Japan — until he was assaulted.
"I served honorably," Arbogast said. "The rape trumped it."
Arbogast was unconscious during his attack — doctors believe he may have been drugged — and he didn’t report it for months. “I’m trying to explain this to base counselors, and it was just eating me alive,” he said. “I could not believe what I was going through … It spiraled my world out of control.”
After he confronted his rapist and went through the court martial, he didn’t want to go near a base, but every six months the military brought him back to check on his health. It took him five years until he could formally retire from the Marines on medical grounds.
Then he had to face his demons in civilian life. His daughter was just under a year old, but he couldn’t connect with anyone. He tried to move forward, marrying his daughter’s mother in 2004.
"As much as I love my daughter, I didn’t have the relationship with her that I should have," he said. "I ruined a lot of relationships."
Arbogast and his wife divorced. He withdrew from the world, unable to trust others or himself. He went from being uninterested in sex to engaging with a “chronic,” endless string of faceless female partners. “The myth is that men can’t be raped, so when this trauma takes place, it plays with their mind so bad,” he said of men who become victims of sexual assault. 
When he met his current wife, Tiffany, he was sure his experiences would chase her away. But it all came tumbling out. “She looked at me and told me it didn’t matter, she would love me regardless. As much as I wanted to believe her, I couldn’t,” he said.
His downward spiral continued. On Oct. 1, 2009, about four months after they were married, Tiffany took his handgun, planning to keep it in her car while she was at work.
"I thought I was poison to everybody I was around, or anything I had ever touched," Arbogast said. "I was dragging people down again, it was starting all over … I decided that’s when I was gonna end it, stop being a problem to everybody else."
That afternoon, he got his 9mm handgun out of Tiffany’s car before she left for work. “I told her I wasn’t gonna do anything,” he said. Hours later, he was sitting on the ground beside the car, “trying to make reason of why my life was the way it was.”
He raised the gun to his chest, but because he had been drinking, slumped at the last second. The bullet tore through his high abdomen and blasted out through his spine, damaging his spinal cord. He lost 60 percent of his blood, and woke up a week later in the hospital from a medically induced coma.
His depression only deepened over the coming months, until his wife told him that he had a gift. Arbogast now had the understanding to spread awareness and speak for three groups that often suffer in silence: military sexual assault survivors, suicide survivors and people with disabilities.
"Something clicked," said Arbogast, now 32. "I didn’t want anybody else to go through it."
"People don’t understand why it’s a gift," he added, reflecting on his whole experience. "But many people die and never realize what they really had, what their purpose in life was. My life was spared to give me a purpose."
Not that his recovery has ever been easy. He says, simply, “You can’t undo a gunshot wound.”
Though grateful for his military health care and benefits, he has relied less and less on medical facilities. “When you’re in a wheelchair, you get so tired of being poked and prodded,” he said. “One day I just said, ‘enough. I need to live my life.’”
He has become involved in Paralympic and adaptive sports and is a decorated athlete in cycling and swimming. He had never skied in his life before he became a paraplegic; now he loves it, terrorizing the slopes in a monoski, a bucket chair with a ski attached. Recently, he’s been learning how to get around with braces.
Arbogast has just begun to talk about his experience to his daughter, Brianna, who’s now 11. “I’ll tell her, ‘Daddy tried to kill himself because he didn’t want to be here,’ and she’ll say, ‘I want you here.’”
Brianna helps him move around their house, which is not accessible for wheelchairs. “I’ll tell you what, it’s extreme hell,” he said. “I can’t even get into the bathroom safely, my wife has to get me a roll stool and roll me. Just think of all the places in a house when you’re in a wheelchair you can’t get to.”
He said it’s difficult for military and sexual assault survivors, especially men, to speak out about the issue. “We don’t talk about sexual assault because it’s ‘complex,’” he said. “Complex? You try and come live for just an hour in my complex life.”
But he feels strongly that the discrimination and misunderstanding he faces are worth it if he can help to save someone’s life.
"I’ve been through life and death," he said. "There is gonna come a time in your life when you have to say enough is enough. You’re letting that perpetrator who assaulted you rent your life for free. You’re becoming a slave to what they’ve done to you."
Others may see his experience as a reason to want to give up. But he says it’s the reason to keep living. “It’s all the tragedy and the triumph between where I was and where I am today.”
Several organizations have been trying to help the Arbogast family raise money to adapt their home, but so far, the funds have fallen short. Click here for more about the project and to donate.
This article is part of a special Huffington Post series, “Invisible Casualties,” which spotlights suicide-prevention efforts within the military. To see all the articles, blog posts, audio and video, click here.
For a review of warning signs someone may be at risk of suicide, click here. For a list of resources to get free and confidential help, click here. If you or someone you know needs help, call the national crisis line for the military and veterans at 1-800-273-8255, or send a text to 838255. High-res

SOLDIER STORIES: Life preserving message.

Marine veteran Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Arbogast in the pool at the 2012 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

(Courtesy photo, 24 APR 2012. Article by Molly O’Toole, 24 SEP 2013, Huffington Post.)

When Jeremiah Arbogast entered the home of his former boss, a Marine staff sergeant, he was wearing a body wire hooked up by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which was listening from a nearby car.

"I need to know what happened," Arbogast told the staff sergeant in 2001. "I need to get help. I can’t get help if I don’t know what happened."

The man began to coolly list everything he had done to Arbogast, recounting his rape.

"I don’t know what possessed him to just be like, ‘I did this, this and this, and that’s that,’" Arbogast said. "No remorse, no nothing." Arbogast got his rapist’s full confession on tape, but the process severely traumatized him — again.

The staff sergeant was convicted by court martial in 2002, given merely a “bad conduct” discharge from the Marines. But Arbogast’s ordeal went on for seven more years of severe depression, nightmares and insomnia. He had trouble concentrating; his mind would wander back to the rape. He swung abruptly from rage to numbness. He got divorced. Then got remarried. He drank. Nothing worked.

In 2009, Arbogast aimed a gun “right dead in the chest, where my heart would be, where my pain was.” He missed and became partially paralyzed.

His wife told him, “You’ve got a gift now. You’ve been given a new life in death and you’ve got to do something with it.”

Men accounted for only about 12 percent of reported military sexual assault cases in fiscal year 2012. But more men than women are sexually assaulted each year in the military, given that men make up some 85 percent of service members, notes Michael Matthews, a close friend of Arbogast. Matthews’ own experience as a veteran and victim of rape served as the catalyst for "Justice Denied," a documentary about male military sexual assault survivors.

Back in 1998, when Arbogast joined the Marines just after high school, no one was talking about these issues. He started as a motor transport operator, and later served as a lance corporal in a weapons training battalion. He was preparing to deploy to Okinawa, Japan — until he was assaulted.

"I served honorably," Arbogast said. "The rape trumped it."

Arbogast was unconscious during his attack — doctors believe he may have been drugged — and he didn’t report it for months. “I’m trying to explain this to base counselors, and it was just eating me alive,” he said. “I could not believe what I was going through … It spiraled my world out of control.”

After he confronted his rapist and went through the court martial, he didn’t want to go near a base, but every six months the military brought him back to check on his health. It took him five years until he could formally retire from the Marines on medical grounds.

Then he had to face his demons in civilian life. His daughter was just under a year old, but he couldn’t connect with anyone. He tried to move forward, marrying his daughter’s mother in 2004.

"As much as I love my daughter, I didn’t have the relationship with her that I should have," he said. "I ruined a lot of relationships."

Arbogast and his wife divorced. He withdrew from the world, unable to trust others or himself. He went from being uninterested in sex to engaging with a “chronic,” endless string of faceless female partners. “The myth is that men can’t be raped, so when this trauma takes place, it plays with their mind so bad,” he said of men who become victims of sexual assault. 

When he met his current wife, Tiffany, he was sure his experiences would chase her away. But it all came tumbling out. “She looked at me and told me it didn’t matter, she would love me regardless. As much as I wanted to believe her, I couldn’t,” he said.

His downward spiral continued. On Oct. 1, 2009, about four months after they were married, Tiffany took his handgun, planning to keep it in her car while she was at work.

"I thought I was poison to everybody I was around, or anything I had ever touched," Arbogast said. "I was dragging people down again, it was starting all over … I decided that’s when I was gonna end it, stop being a problem to everybody else."

That afternoon, he got his 9mm handgun out of Tiffany’s car before she left for work. “I told her I wasn’t gonna do anything,” he said. Hours later, he was sitting on the ground beside the car, “trying to make reason of why my life was the way it was.”

He raised the gun to his chest, but because he had been drinking, slumped at the last second. The bullet tore through his high abdomen and blasted out through his spine, damaging his spinal cord. He lost 60 percent of his blood, and woke up a week later in the hospital from a medically induced coma.

His depression only deepened over the coming months, until his wife told him that he had a gift. Arbogast now had the understanding to spread awareness and speak for three groups that often suffer in silence: military sexual assault survivors, suicide survivors and people with disabilities.

"Something clicked," said Arbogast, now 32. "I didn’t want anybody else to go through it."

"People don’t understand why it’s a gift," he added, reflecting on his whole experience. "But many people die and never realize what they really had, what their purpose in life was. My life was spared to give me a purpose."

Not that his recovery has ever been easy. He says, simply, “You can’t undo a gunshot wound.”

Though grateful for his military health care and benefits, he has relied less and less on medical facilities. “When you’re in a wheelchair, you get so tired of being poked and prodded,” he said. “One day I just said, ‘enough. I need to live my life.’”

He has become involved in Paralympic and adaptive sports and is a decorated athlete in cycling and swimming. He had never skied in his life before he became a paraplegic; now he loves it, terrorizing the slopes in a monoski, a bucket chair with a ski attached. Recently, he’s been learning how to get around with braces.

Arbogast has just begun to talk about his experience to his daughter, Brianna, who’s now 11. “I’ll tell her, ‘Daddy tried to kill himself because he didn’t want to be here,’ and she’ll say, ‘I want you here.’”

Brianna helps him move around their house, which is not accessible for wheelchairs. “I’ll tell you what, it’s extreme hell,” he said. “I can’t even get into the bathroom safely, my wife has to get me a roll stool and roll me. Just think of all the places in a house when you’re in a wheelchair you can’t get to.”

He said it’s difficult for military and sexual assault survivors, especially men, to speak out about the issue. “We don’t talk about sexual assault because it’s ‘complex,’” he said. “Complex? You try and come live for just an hour in my complex life.”

But he feels strongly that the discrimination and misunderstanding he faces are worth it if he can help to save someone’s life.

"I’ve been through life and death," he said. "There is gonna come a time in your life when you have to say enough is enough. You’re letting that perpetrator who assaulted you rent your life for free. You’re becoming a slave to what they’ve done to you."

Others may see his experience as a reason to want to give up. But he says it’s the reason to keep living. “It’s all the tragedy and the triumph between where I was and where I am today.”

Several organizations have been trying to help the Arbogast family raise money to adapt their home, but so far, the funds have fallen short. Click here for more about the project and to donate.

This article is part of a special Huffington Post series, “Invisible Casualties,” which spotlights suicide-prevention efforts within the military. To see all the articles, blog posts, audio and video, click here.

For a review of warning signs someone may be at risk of suicide, click here. For a list of resources to get free and confidential help, click here. If you or someone you know needs help, call the national crisis line for the military and veterans at 1-800-273-8255, or send a text to 838255.

Celebrating spring with class.
The Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon marches in front of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial on their way to perform for the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Bryan Nygaard, 12 APR 2014.) High-res

Celebrating spring with class.

The Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon marches in front of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial on their way to perform for the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Bryan Nygaard, 12 APR 2014.)

SOLDIER STORIES: To Ramadi and back.
U.S. Marine Sgt. Justin K. Smith, a squad leader with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, and native of Greensboro, N.C., takes a rest during a patrol. In 2006, Smith was part of the battle of Ramadi, one of the fiercest battles of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and served as a squad leader with 2/6 conducting counterinsurgency operations in Helmand province’s Nawa District in 2012.
(Photo by Corporal Johnny Merkley, 12 MAR 2012. Article by Corporal Johnny Merkley, 6 APR 2012.)
TREK NAWA, Afghanistan — The men and women who have earned the title of Marine share a unique history and tradition only found in the Corps. In some cases, this history and tradition is shared by generations of Marines from the same family. Sergeant Justin K. Smith, a squad leader with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, and native of Greensboro, N.C., has a rich Marine Corps tradition within his own family that has provided him with extra motivation through some his toughest times as a Marine. “Having so many family members as former Marines, it was something I had to do,” said Smith. “There has never been a generation in my family without at least one Marine.” Smith enlisted in the Corps as an infantryman in 2005, following in the footsteps of both his grandfather Edward Gallagher, a Korean War veteran, and his uncle Donny Gallagher, a Vietnam War veteran. “Because the other members of my family were in the infantry, it was the most appealing occupation,” said Smith. “I knew the risk I was taking, but I still wanted to be infantry even though I knew I would go to war.” Soon after he graduated from boot camp and the School of Infantry, Smith found himself with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, and was among the first U.S. servicemembers to enter the city of Ramadi – in what turned out to be one of the fiercest battles of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2006, U.S. Forces began the siege of Ramadi, the capital of Al Anbar, to gain control of the largest province in Iraq. Though they suffered high casualties, U.S. Forces eventually defeated a deeply entrenched insurgency after five months of intense combat. “Ramadi was an experience, we flew in during the night and I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Smith. “When we woke up the next morning before we went into the city we got word there had been a suicide bomb the night before, I think that’s when it hit me that I was actually at war.” Since Ramadi, Smith has deployed across Europe and the Middle East. He is currently deployed to Nawa District, Afghanistan as a squad leader with 2/6, leading his Marines in counterinsurgency operations throughout the district. Smith and his squad conduct daily security patrols throughout Trek Nawa, and because of his prior experiences in the Corps he says he’s able to lead his Marines with more confidence and composure.“I think because of his experiences he’s able to teach us and lead us better than other squad leaders,” said Sgt. Correy L. Whidden, a squad leader with Weapons Company, 2/6, and native of Stanford, Ky. “I’ve seen him countless times go out of his way to take care of his Marines and keep the moral up within his squad.” Although Smith shares a rich family history with the Corps, he plans on pursuing a different occupation when he returns home from southern Helmand. He hopes to attend the University of Massachusetts Lowell and finally marry his fiancée Rachel after returning from his final deployment. “I’ve learned a lot in the Marine Corps, these are skills that I’ll use for the rest of my life,” said Smith. “I don’t regret my decision to join one bit because the relationships I’ve made while being a Marine will last for the rest of my life.”  High-res

SOLDIER STORIES: To Ramadi and back.

U.S. Marine Sgt. Justin K. Smith, a squad leader with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, and native of Greensboro, N.C., takes a rest during a patrol. In 2006, Smith was part of the battle of Ramadi, one of the fiercest battles of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and served as a squad leader with 2/6 conducting counterinsurgency operations in Helmand province’s Nawa District in 2012.

(Photo by Corporal Johnny Merkley, 12 MAR 2012. Article by Corporal Johnny Merkley, 6 APR 2012.)

TREK NAWA, Afghanistan — The men and women who have earned the title of Marine share a unique history and tradition only found in the Corps. In some cases, this history and tradition is shared by generations of Marines from the same family. 

Sergeant Justin K. Smith, a squad leader with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, and native of Greensboro, N.C., has a rich Marine Corps tradition within his own family that has provided him with extra motivation through some his toughest times as a Marine. 

“Having so many family members as former Marines, it was something I had to do,” said Smith. “There has never been a generation in my family without at least one Marine.” 

Smith enlisted in the Corps as an infantryman in 2005, following in the footsteps of both his grandfather Edward Gallagher, a Korean War veteran, and his uncle Donny Gallagher, a Vietnam War veteran. 

“Because the other members of my family were in the infantry, it was the most appealing occupation,” said Smith. “I knew the risk I was taking, but I still wanted to be infantry even though I knew I would go to war.” 

Soon after he graduated from boot camp and the School of Infantry, Smith found himself with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, and was among the first U.S. servicemembers to enter the city of Ramadi – in what turned out to be one of the fiercest battles of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

In 2006, U.S. Forces began the siege of Ramadi, the capital of Al Anbar, to gain control of the largest province in Iraq. Though they suffered high casualties, U.S. Forces eventually defeated a deeply entrenched insurgency after five months of intense combat. 
“Ramadi was an experience, we flew in during the night and I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Smith. “When we woke up the next morning before we went into the city we got word there had been a suicide bomb the night before, I think that’s when it hit me that I was actually at war.” 

Since Ramadi, Smith has deployed across Europe and the Middle East. He is currently deployed to Nawa District, Afghanistan as a squad leader with 2/6, leading his Marines in counterinsurgency operations throughout the district. Smith and his squad conduct daily security patrols throughout Trek Nawa, and because of his prior experiences in the Corps he says he’s able to lead his Marines with more confidence and composure.

“I think because of his experiences he’s able to teach us and lead us better than other squad leaders,” said Sgt. Correy L. Whidden, a squad leader with Weapons Company, 2/6, and native of Stanford, Ky. “I’ve seen him countless times go out of his way to take care of his Marines and keep the moral up within his squad.” 

Although Smith shares a rich family history with the Corps, he plans on pursuing a different occupation when he returns home from southern Helmand. He hopes to attend the University of Massachusetts Lowell and finally marry his fiancée Rachel after returning from his final deployment. 

“I’ve learned a lot in the Marine Corps, these are skills that I’ll use for the rest of my life,” said Smith. “I don’t regret my decision to join one bit because the relationships I’ve made while being a Marine will last for the rest of my life.” 

Fun day at the beach with your friends.

Republic of Korea Marines drive Amphibious Assault Vehicles onto Dogue Beach during exercise Ssang Yong, Pohang, South Korea. Exercise Ssang Yong is conducted annually in the ROK to enhance interoperability between U.S. and ROK forces by performing a full spectrum of amphibious operations while showcasing sea-based power projection in the Pacific.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Lauren Whitney, 3 APR 2014.)

SOLDIER STORIES: Farrell’s Fight, Fin.

Farrell Gilliam was buried in Fresno Jan. 21, carried to his grave by Marine pallbearers and friends.

(Article by Gretel C. Kovach, 28 MAR 2014 in UT San Diego. Source.)

He rarely spoke of it. Not to his family or best buddies, fellow Marines or medical staff watching over him. 

But Cpl. Farrell Gilliam had endured far more by the age 25 than most people could comprehend.

The Camp Pendleton infantryman survived three months of combat in 2010 with the “Darkhorse” 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment in Sangin, Afghanistan — one of the deadliest battlegrounds of the war.

Amid firefights and insurgents’ bombs, Gilliam saw limbs strewn across the ground. He loaded broken, bleeding bodies for medical evacuation, and grieved for the friends they could not save.

Gilliam’s tour ended early when his legs were blown off by an improvised explosive device, or IED. “Farrell’s Fight,” his struggle on the homefront that his big brother helped him chronicle online, included more than 30 surgeries and three years of rehabilitation.

It was a story of triumph over wounds that would have been fatal in earlier conflicts. A story that was coming to an end, but not how anyone who knew him expected.

Gilliam was months away from a medical discharge from the Marine Corps and a new life as civilian college student. Physically, he had one surgery left to remove hardware in an arm. Psychologically, he was suffering from invisible wounds he hid behind smiles and upbeat banter.

Or so his family discovered on Jan. 9, when Gilliam committed suicide by shooting himself in the head in his barracks room in San Antonio.

Evening Quickie #soldierporn: Sharp Dressed Man.

Lance Cpl. Christopher Pokorny stands in formation with the Silent Drill Platoon while removing bayonets from M1 Garand rifles after performing at Parris Island, S.C. The platoon showcased 15 minutes of unique, precision drill movements before an audience of more than 1,000 recruit Marines and civilians. The platoon is attached to the Battle Color Detachment and based at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., which traveled to more than 15 different locations across the country in March 2014 for a tour. (Photos by Cpl. Octavia Davis, 19 MAR 2014.)

Requiesce, scies pace.
The battlefield cross of Lance Cpl. Caleb L. Erickson sits on display during his memorial service at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. Erickson, of Waseca, Minn., a motor transportation mechanic stationed out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Feb. 28, 2014.
(Article and photo by Corporal Joshua Young, 7 MAR 2014.)
“We’ve come together today to remember Lance Cpl. Caleb Erickson,” said Navy Lt. Doyl E. McMurry, the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines chaplain during the opening prayer for Erickson’s memorial. “He was many things to many people, but to us he was our brother.”Erickson, 20, of Waseca, Minn., was stationed out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. He is remembered by his peers as a Marine who would always volunteer for the jobs that others didn’t want to do but made those jobs fun with his sarcastic humor. “He always found the positive side of everything,” said 1st Lt. John Matlaga, the logistics officer for Motor Transportation Platoon, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. “His sense of humor and optimism always lifted the hopes and moods of those around him.”Erickson’s peers who spoke at his memorial all mentioned his work ethic and willingness to help everyone. When Erickson saw others working, he would drop what he was doing to help them out. He was loved by all and showed his love for all with his selfless attitude. “The day of the convoy, most of the platoon left for a quick chow break after the brief,” said Cpl. Martin McNamara, also with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, who then began prepping his truck while others ate. “When the guys came back, there was Erickson, with a heaping to-go tray in his hands. He said, ‘Hey man, I grabbed you some food.’ I told him I hadn’t expected anyone to grab anything for me. He said, ‘Hey, you’re my driver, I gotta make sure you’re taken care of.’ I patted him on the shoulder and said, ‘Erickson, this is why I love you,’ not knowing it would be my last time.”Everyone who knew Erickson knew of his love for his Volkswagen GTI and his fellow Marines, but Erickson loved one thing more than all others, his family.“Everyone knew that about him, how close he was with his family,” said Lance Cpl. Derek Feick, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, who commented on Erickson’s ‘trademark smile’ during the memorial. “I think he got the most letters out of anyone in the whole platoon while we were out here. That just shows how much he was loved and if you ever met him, you knew why he was loved.”Erickson had a strong Minnesota accent that he and his peers loved to make fun of. His fellow Marines knew him as someone who would make himself the butt of the joke to keep everyone smiling and laughing.“He was a model for how every man should be,” said Lance Cpl. Zachary Dewar, with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, who considers Erickson his best friend and brother. “He always had a smile on his face, and if you didn’t, he’d put one on your face within two seconds of talking to him. He was the greatest man I’ve ever met. I plan on living every day just as he would, and I hope others do too. He made an impact on others’ lives and a huge impact on mine. I know you’re up there, keeping us safe. The memories of you are what keep me going. Semper Fidelis, I love you brother.” High-res

Requiesce, scies pace.

The battlefield cross of Lance Cpl. Caleb L. Erickson sits on display during his memorial service at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. Erickson, of Waseca, Minn., a motor transportation mechanic stationed out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Feb. 28, 2014.

(Article and photo by Corporal Joshua Young, 7 MAR 2014.)

“We’ve come together today to remember Lance Cpl. Caleb Erickson,” said Navy Lt. Doyl E. McMurry, the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines chaplain during the opening prayer for Erickson’s memorial. “He was many things to many people, but to us he was our brother.”

Erickson, 20, of Waseca, Minn., was stationed out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. He is remembered by his peers as a Marine who would always volunteer for the jobs that others didn’t want to do but made those jobs fun with his sarcastic humor. 

“He always found the positive side of everything,” said 1st Lt. John Matlaga, the logistics officer for Motor Transportation Platoon, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. “His sense of humor and optimism always lifted the hopes and moods of those around him.”

Erickson’s peers who spoke at his memorial all mentioned his work ethic and willingness to help everyone. When Erickson saw others working, he would drop what he was doing to help them out. He was loved by all and showed his love for all with his selfless attitude. 

“The day of the convoy, most of the platoon left for a quick chow break after the brief,” said Cpl. Martin McNamara, also with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, who then began prepping his truck while others ate. “When the guys came back, there was Erickson, with a heaping to-go tray in his hands. He said, ‘Hey man, I grabbed you some food.’ I told him I hadn’t expected anyone to grab anything for me. He said, ‘Hey, you’re my driver, I gotta make sure you’re taken care of.’ I patted him on the shoulder and said, ‘Erickson, this is why I love you,’ not knowing it would be my last time.”

Everyone who knew Erickson knew of his love for his Volkswagen GTI and his fellow Marines, but Erickson loved one thing more than all others, his family.

“Everyone knew that about him, how close he was with his family,” said Lance Cpl. Derek Feick, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, who commented on Erickson’s ‘trademark smile’ during the memorial. “I think he got the most letters out of anyone in the whole platoon while we were out here. That just shows how much he was loved and if you ever met him, you knew why he was loved.”

Erickson had a strong Minnesota accent that he and his peers loved to make fun of. His fellow Marines knew him as someone who would make himself the butt of the joke to keep everyone smiling and laughing.

“He was a model for how every man should be,” said Lance Cpl. Zachary Dewar, with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, who considers Erickson his best friend and brother. “He always had a smile on his face, and if you didn’t, he’d put one on your face within two seconds of talking to him. He was the greatest man I’ve ever met. I plan on living every day just as he would, and I hope others do too. He made an impact on others’ lives and a huge impact on mine. I know you’re up there, keeping us safe. The memories of you are what keep me going. Semper Fidelis, I love you brother.”

Bloodied but unbowed.

Cpl. Tyler J. Southern and Cpl. Todd Love plot a course on the map during the land navigation part of corporals course at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda, Maryland. These Marines were part of the first Wounded Warrior Detachment corporals course.

The graduating class of the first Wounded Warrior Detachment corporals course at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda, Md., Jan. 16.

(Photos by Lance Corporal Daniel Wetzel, 12-16 JAN 2012.)