Former Marine Turned Journalist Heads To Helmand Province To Cover 1st Battalion 5th Marines

Friday, May 13th, 2011.  I took a very rare opportunity to deploy with U.S. Marines into Southern Afghanistan’s poppy-lands, the notorious region of Sangin, in the Helmand province. I thought of this as my vacation time, so I titled a blog Holiday In and went to work.

The news of Osama bin Laden’s death was recently announced just before I made final preparations for my flight. I thought to myself that this could change things, significantly.

Being a Former U.S. Marine, I was exited to learn the command finally approved of my travel orders to return to my former unit, 1st Marine Division.

I still had a number of contacts that were in the division, so I felt right at home linking up with my close friend Gunnery Sergeant John Wodkowski (Woody) at FOB (Forward Operating Base) Jackson. Woody was now the company “Gunny” and truly made my trip worth while.

He introduced me to many of the new staff and officers that were running the show in Sangin. My biggest security concerns wasn’t going on foot-patrols with the marines, as many would think, it was travelling to and fro within the country that gave me the biggest scare.

The local insurgents and Taliban opium smugglers had recently declared a “Spring Offensive” against the marines. I had also heard that they were kidnapping journalist in Kabul, an area I could not avoid on my exit.

My mission was to better understand the cost-benefit of this war in it’s entirety. After speaking to a number of marines at great length, It became more clear to me. Hopefully, I can share that sentiment when you see a number of the interviews I conducted on film.

In all, this was nothing less than an exiting adventure down memory lane on a pilgrimage for the truth and determination of value based on the sacrifices made.

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