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Marines Sacrifice Holidays to Fight for Country

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Last year the majority of Marines of 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion were enjoying Christmas with their families. This year 2nd CEB are spread all over southern Afghanistan working hard building observational posts, searching for IEDs, and providing route clearance.

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Regimental Combat Team-7, 1st Marine Division Public Affairs
Story by Lance Cpl. Walter Marino
Date: 12.27.2009
Posted: 12.27.2009 07:57

However, for many Marines of 2nd CEB it was not a dreaded sacrifice, and instead embraced the duty with pride for family and Corps.

"I didn't join the Marine Corps during a time of war not to fight," said Cpl. Aaron A. Bennet, a heavy equipment operator, for 2nd CEB.

"For all those Marines who have died, it was time to do my part."

Marines deploy to Afghanistan knowing they may not see loved ones for 7 months to even a year. Yet, the positive is found.

"My wife and I say it's not going to kill us, only make us stronger," Bennet said. "Some relationships get stagnate. But we know what it's like to truly miss each other, and want to be with each other all the time."

Like many Marines, Bennet got married knowing the possibility of long periods of time from his wife.

"My wife understood why I wanted to deploy," said Bennet, a Spring, Texas native. "She told me, 'I know you joined the Marine Corps to fight. Who am I to tell you not to fight'?"

Many Marines describe their time in Afghanistan, as a sacrifice. Some even have their own meaning to the word.

"Sacrifice isn't a real sacrifice unless you believe in the people you're with, and the mission at hand," said Cpl. Jonathan Lehman, a combat engineer with Alpha Company, 2nd CEB.

Undoubtedly, the Marines in Afghanistan will miss their families this holiday season. But as Col. Randall P. Newman, commander for the Regimental Combat Team 7 says, they are with a different family out here.

"Obviously it's easy to get caught up in how much you miss your family. But I believe in the future my wife and daughter will understand. It's not always someone else's job," Lehman said. "My fellow Marines get me through this along with mail from home. Not for the items, but for the care that went into it. It makes me feel closer to my family."

Already looking toward the next holiday season, Lehman has his plans set.

"Next year's Christmas will be quite the experience, said Lehman. "It will be me and my wife's first Christmas as a family. I look forward to next year's Christmas, and spoiling my four and a half year-old daughter."