This video is not for everybody. These Marines from the same unit, 3rd Bn 5th Marines, share their stories through video taken while on deployment together, and after they returned home. The video is about 48 minutes long, but it will keep your attention with its honesty throughout. For those who have been there, no explanation is needed; for those that have not been there, no explanation is possible.
(Though most of the footage consists of thoughtful contemplation by a handful of former Marines, there are a few clips captured during combat with a bit of colorful language sprinkled in there. Watch responsibly.)
The footage comes from this small unit’s tour in Afghanistan and is woven together with individual accounts of various battles they were in together and video taken of them individually after they’ve come home. They talk about the attitudes and the humor that helped them deal with and get through some of the more challenging times.
They were in one of the toughest parts of Afghanistan throughout their tour, in Sangin Province. They replaced British troops who had suffered the highest casualty rates of any British units while they were there. You will hear conversations and comments that will be very familiar to combat veterans. You will hear them talk about friends that they lost and how that affected them. In one part of the video you will see them talking about one of their own who was killed while they were there, how they came together to celebrate and remember him, and how it felt to be together to deal with that loss of one of their brothers.
In between all the bravado and the tough language, you will hear them speak of the love and the brotherhood they’ve come to share with each other. It is a bond that is formed in the crucible of combat, that is shaped by the commitment to protect and defend one another, to have each others’ backs every moment, in the field or in the rear. There is no other bond like it.
You will hear also how each of them dealt with coming back from that deployment, how they struggled to make the transition from the unit cohesiveness of your team, to the chaos and disconnected feelings they experienced coming back into civilian life where no one understands your experience. They will speak about how they would try to hide their interior struggles and problems. Like all of us who have gone to war, these guys had their illusions about being warriors and how the reality of war stripped those illusions away.
“It is a bond that is formed in the crucible of combat, that is shaped by the commitment to protect and defend one another, to have each others’ backs every moment…”
They handle their struggles with PTSD on their return home in very honest and open ways as well. They all have some level of PTSD, just like all who have been through the trauma of war. What they talk about here will be very recognizable to anyone who has been through it themselves. These are very important conversations and comments. They will resonate deeply with those who have been through these things. I believe these young Marine combat veterans will help others understand these things a bit more as well.
In the latter half of the film, done after they had come home and started to try to “fit back in,” you will hear them speak about how their families and girlfriends helped them to come to grips with it all, to begin to understand and gain control over the anxieties, the angers, and to carry on.
It is very moving they talk openly and with great sensitivity about their memories. and their desire to honor their 25 brothers who did not come home. These Marines from Dark Horse 3rd Bn. 5th Marines reveal the quality of their character in this video. They are young men with old men inside of them. They are men for others, who understand what they did together, who had the courage to sacrifice for a cause larger than themselves, who brought that same courage home with them and used it to face the challenges of PTSD. Each of them is reflective enough to make sense of it all, to learn from it. They are engaged in the long process of taking control of their own lives.
This is a very powerful amateur video. It will move you and make you think. In the end, you will like each of these young men who had the courage to share it all with you here. They are good men all, and good Marines. At the end of it you will better understand the meaning of the Marine Corps motto, “Semper Fidelis.”
Semper Fi, Marines. Thank you for your service and for serving your fellow brother and sisters in arms so well in this video.
1) U.S. Marines with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment provide over watch security during an operation in Sangin Valley, Afghanistan, on Oct. 7, 2010. The Marines conducted a two-day operation to clear insurgents from the Wishtan area. (DoD photo by Cpl. David Hernandez, USMC, released).
2) U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment cross a canal during a security patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan, on Jan. 8, 2011. Marines conducted counterinsurgency operations with the International Security Assistance Force to suppress insurgent activity and gain the trust of Afghan citizens. (DoD photo by Lance Cpl. Jorge A. Ortiz, USMC, released).