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“We really are just focused on what lies ahead.”

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By Michelle Malkin  •  July 12, 2009 11:24 AM


Photo credit: U.S. Marines and about 650 Afghan soldiers and police officers prepare to board CH-53D Sea Stallion and CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters on Forward Operating Base Dwyer, Afghanistan, July 2, 2009. The Marines are assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 3, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. The Marines and Afghan forces are partnered for a major operation in Helmand province to transition security responsibilities to the Afghan forces. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Philippe E. Chasse

Matt Sanchez is embedded with the 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines in Helmand Province in Afghanistan. At FoxNews.com, he reports on how the Marines are staying focused:

Throughout Afghanistan, troops have been killed in action, but that hasn’t been a major concern. News doesn’t reach Fiddler’s Green 24/7, and because of a lack of Internet and phones, most of the 3/11 Marines are using pen and paper to send letters to loved ones back home.

“No media out here, not sure what’s really going on out there,” Corporal Tyler Ledbetter told FOXNews.com.

Ledbetter, who is three months into a 7-month tour in Afghanistan, refused to comment on the possibility of abduction, but was quick to explain why the rising death toll did not faze him.

“We’re the best trained fighting force in the world,” he said.

Throughout the day, redundant checks are designed to account for Marines. “Accountability. Eyes on every Marine, pre-combat checks, pre-combat inspections,” said battalion commander Lt. Chris Lewis. “Physical and visual accountability, nothing less.”

The battle-hardened command is much more stoic than the younger grunts with guns at the gate.

“Personally I have no fear of being kidnapped. Accountability is very strong for the Marines,” said Sgt. Christopher Rye, a 26-year old Marine combat camera photographer.

In the Combat Operations Center, one of the few areas with electricity and some climate control, Battalion Adjutant 1st Lt. Adam McLaurin is brief and blunt. “I’m not focused on casualties,” says the Gainesville, Fla., native, who is on his first deployment.

“We really are just focused on what lies ahead.”

Keep these men in your thoughts and prayers.

DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two Marines who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lance Cpl. Roger G. Hager, 20, of Gibsonville, N.C., and Master Sgt. John E. Hayes, 36, of Middleburg, Fla., died July 8 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. They were assigned to 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

And from Ft. Carson:

A veteran soldier who re-enlisted in the Army to support his 4-year-old son was killed Wednesday in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced Thursday.

Spc. Gregory J. Missman, 36, of Batavia, Ohio, died in Bagram, Afghanistan, after his unit was attacked with small-arms fire, the department said. He was part of Fort Carson’s 704th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

Missman had served in the Army in the early 1990s but had been a civilian for 11 years, his father, Jim Missman, told WCPO in Cincinnati. He recently re-enlisted after a divorce to provide health insurance for his son, his father said.

Missman was a 1993 graduate of Amelia High School in Batavia.

His unit deployed a month ago.

And more.

R.I.P. Your service and sacrifice are not forgotten.

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