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    Marines, Afghan soldiers take on harsh weather conditions in Helmand province



    Story by Lance Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde  

    Regimental Combat Team-7

    HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — The troops awoke from their tarp-covered fighting holes, Feb. 10, to find a blanket of frost, covering everything around them. Their boots, flak jackets, helmets and anything else exposed to the elements served as a frozen consequence of sleeping outside in the harsh desert of Helmand, province Afghanistan during the wintertime.

    Frost was only one of the many challenges to the Marines and Sailors of India Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, and soldiers of the Afghan national army, living outside without the protection of permanent structures.

    Earlier in the week, a brutal hailstorm, without warning, pelted the Marines with large chunks of ice.

    "I was standing on top of a hill and the hail started sprinkling a little bit," recalled Cpl. Charles Hickey, a mortarman with India Co. "Then the wind picked up and it started hurting more. All of a sudden, instantly, marble-sized hail started coming at us at like 100 miles an hour!"

    The hail fell from the sky so hard and fast that it even left visible marks on the Marines' bodies.

    "Guys have bruises on their arms and their backs (from the hail)," said Lance Cpl. Dan Reilly, 23, also a motarman with India Co. "I have them on the back of my legs," added the 23-year-old Reilly.

    The troops have been nomadic while in Helmand province, moving to different locations every few days. They have been living in makeshift shelters using whatever materials they have on hand and have been exposed to all types of weather conditions, including sandstorms.

    "(The sand) beats the hell out of your face," said the 19-year-old Hickey. "You've got to cover every part of your body (to keep the sand out.)"

    On one particular day, the troops were bombarded by a day-long sandstorm. The wind howled throughout the land, pelting the service members with bitterly cold air and grainy sand.

    "The whole day, the wind wouldn't stop blowing," said Reilly, from Jenkintown, Pa. "I've had sand in more places than I knew I could," he humorously added. "That day was just miserable."

    The troops also had to deal with other inclement weather conditions during their stay in the desert, including thunderstorms and frequent cold fronts. Nevertheless, the troops deal with it as best they can.

    "It could always be worse," said Reilly, in regard to the horrible weather. "Guys have had it worse, so I just do what I can and keep on keeping on."



    Date Taken: 02.12.2010
    Date Posted: 02.12.2010 11:14
    Story ID: 45264

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