This morning I was over at my son’s Facebook page, posting a “thank you for your service.” I was scrolling down the page, seeing a few posts that are not for his mother’s eyes. When I got to a post that said, “Marjah 2010.” For those of you who don’t know me, my son was a US Marine and he was deployed to Afghanistan in early 2010. This was an extremely difficult time for me, as you can well imagine. While he was deployed I was on the internet constantly trying to glean any and all information about where he was and honestly I just wanted to get a glimpse of his face.
While out to lunch with a friend, I overheard a news report, announcing the Marines had staged a takeover of a little village called Marjah. The blood drained from all parts of my body, because I “knew” in my heart this is where my son would be. He had called me a week or so before, and of course he couldn’t tell me anything about where they were or what was going to happen. He sounded scared, but he tried to keep the conversation light for my sake. He started by saying, “Hey, it’s me, your Babyboy.” He went on to tell me that would be the last time he could call for a while. Little did I know, that was the last time I would hear his voice for eight weeks.
I spent countless hours pouring over everything I could get my hands on. Anything to do with “The Marjah Push.” One night after my husband had gone to bed, I was looking at pictures on the internet. A New York Times reporter and photographer were embedded with a group of Marines. I was reading more about it, when I saw what I’d been dreading to see. This reporter was with my son’s company. I let out a scream, and my husband came rushing out of the bedroom to see what the matter was. I told him this was Zane’s unit and they had pictures of the battle.
After that, I couldn’t stop myself, it was like a train wreck. I examined group shots, backsides, and profiles trying to see my son. Then while looking through the daily post of pictures I saw him. Running out of a dirt building with yellow smoke behind him. Later he would tell his grandpa details about that photo, but never to me.
A few days later, a report of a death in his unit came through. Lance Corporal Alejandro Yazzie had been killed in the line of duty. This hit me doubly hard, this young man was my son’s battle buddy, and he grew up, not far from where my parents had spent serving as missionaries on the Navajo reservation.
Someday I’ll share all of my nightmares, fears and panic I had during that time. Today this is all I can share.
Once he was back on American soil, I continued to support the troops by praying and sending letters, but I couldn’t stand to watch reports on the news or even hear about another person dying. I kept a file of all of the information I had during that time. Until today, it’s remained closed.
So, after I saw the post on my son’s page, I decided five years was probably enough time for me to get over my fears. After all, he’s home, safe and happy.
When you click and watch YouTube videos, more pop up when you finish. I made it through the one from Zane’s page, and then when the next one started… Kilo 3/6, his unit. I watched, listened and told myself, I was probably mis-remembering which unit he was in. No, I was right. This video had many of the shots that I’d seen five years ago, but after all the excitement and hard rock music died down, the second part started.
This was a much different set of pictures. There’s one with the medivac helo coming in to pick up someone that’s been injured. I can only assume Lance Corporal Yazzie. There are three Marines standing in the foreground, shielding their eyes from the dirt as the helicopter lifts up. The three are standing in a line, with their heads buried in the shoulder of the man in front of them. My son is in the front with his head down buried against a dirt wall. The music has slowed and turned more thoughtful.
The pictures are now showing tired, weary faces. War is Hell.
The Kilo 3/6 were told to prepare for a three to five day battle. They were on the front lines for five months.
This is just one story, there are thousands more. Now you can understand when I say, “Telling them thank you just doesn’t seem enough.”