CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – The wind blows gently over the twin flags – one American, one Afghan. In their shadow below, Marines with Regimental Combat Team 6 stand in formation, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the senior enlisted American in Afghanistan, Sept 26.
Command Sergeant Major Thomas Capel walks up to the Marines and calls them out of the formation. He asks them to come closer so that he can speak with them.
“First, let me just say that it is my honor and pleasure to be standing here in front of you and talking to you today,” said Capel, command senior enlisted for the International Security Assistance Force-Afghanistan.
Capel continued talking to the Marines, thanking them for the sacrifices they have made during their deployment.
“How many of you have missed an anniversary or a child’s birthday?” he asked. A few Marines raised their hands. “How many of you have missed Thanksgiving or Christmas?” He asked again. Almost all the Marines in the formation raised their hands.
“You all have sacrificed your time with your family for others,” he continued. “You all gave the people in Afghanistan a better life. I want to personally thank each and every single one of you for supporting and defending the freedom of Americans and others across the world.”
Capel continued talking to the Marines and mentioned a previous deployment to Afghanistan in 2006.
“I was here when the Marines first got to Helmand,” he said. “When the Marines first got here they gave the Taliban a few choices.
“Either throw down your weapons and stop fighting, leave Helmand because you will not stay, or you can stay and die!”
Capel continued on, thanking the Marines for their service.
“You swore (an oath) that you would protect and defend our homeland,” he said. “Thanks to you for signing up to do that because we cant do that without you. I just want to thank you for your service. I am truly honored to serve with you.”
Editor’s note: Regimental Combat Team 6 heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.