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Marines Make the Most With the Least During Christmas in Now Zad

NOW ZAD, Afghanistan – Just three weeks removed from leading the assault into Now Zad during Operation Cobra's Anger, the Marines of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, switched gears and embraced the holiday spirit.

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Regimental Combat Team-7, 1st Marine Division Public Affairs
Story by Staff Sgt. Luis Agostini
Date: 12.26.2009
Posted: 12.26.2009 03:37

Christmas music blared from a mini-DVD player. A 12-inch faux fern tree sat atop of a wooden table, where Marines prepared their Christmas dinner, peeling potatoes, stirring eggs, and prepping the grill for the main dish – a seasoned turkey.

For some, this was a different Christmas than the Marines were used to, in a desolate area of Now Zad, on a patrol base in the middle of an Afghan valley. For others, this was the routine they've developed over the past few years.

"This is my fourth holiday season away from home," said Cpl. Alex Pirila, a squad leader with Lima Co., 3/4. "It's kind of a normal thing now. These guys become your family."

The Marines have learned how to adapt to a Spartan setting. The delivery of food and water brings smiles to their faces.

"Dinner is going to be a nice little break from the usual (Meals Ready to Eat)," said Seaman Derrick R. Ward, a corpsman with Lima Co., 3/4. "Other than that, it's just another day in Afghanistan."

For Marines like Lance Cpl. Andrew N. Klassen, a rifleman with Lima Co., 3/4, the holiday season holds minimal significance in their lives.

"I'm not really the holiday type. It's just another day for me. I have a job to do," said Klassen, 25, who was responsible for transporting the commanding officer of his company to the different battle positions during Operation Cobra's Anger.

"Now that it's over, I'm just trying to settle back into a routine, making sure people have what they need on a combat outpost," Klassen said.

The usually festive day did not go without incident. While Marines conducting security patrols in the outlying areas, an Afghan man walked to the patrol base and asked for medical assistance for his young son, who had a blister on his backside, and risked infection if not treated. Petty Officer 3rd Class Jimmy Diaz, a corpsman with Lima Co., 3/4, experienced the gift of giving and lanced the child's blister and treated it, sending the family off one child healthier.

At two of Lima Company's patrol bases, 7-ton trucks delivered care packages sent by people throughout the United States, along with letters from elementary school children who pledged their support to the Marines currently conducting counterinsurgency operations in partnership with the Afghan national security forces.

"It's awesome to know that there are people actually supporting us and caring about us. It feels good," said Cpl. John N. Koko, a rifleman with Lima Co., 3/4.