COMBAT OUTPOST AZADI, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
COMBAT OUTPOST AZADI, Helmand province, Afghanistan – The title of United States Marine is earned, never given, but along with the title comes sacrifice. Marines give up time with friends and family to deploy to foreign lands in unselfish service to the nation.
They often live in less-than-ideal living conditions; work endless hours; and eat pre-packaged, vacuum-sealed food. Throughout a seven-month deployment these conditions can wear on a Marine mentally and physically, but it is that positive, motivating attitude that helps Marines persevere.
Detroit native Lance Cpl. Alexander H. Brown, an assaultman with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, knows how to make lemonade when life hands him lemons. His infectious laughter, contagious smile, and positive attitude help the Marines of “Kilo” Company keep on smilin’.
“He may be having a bad day, but you’d never be able to tell – he always finds the good in any situation,” said Flemington, N.J., native 1st Sgt. Christian Bull, the Kilo Company first sergeant. “I always tell the Marines that attitude is a conscious decision. I don’t know how he does it, but there is a positive focus on the things he does everyday.”
Brown spends his days standing guard at the outpost, providing vital security for his fellow Marines and sailors within. The assignment, however, is not the most desirable for the young Marine, who training for six consecutive months to be an infantry assaultman. Like practicing all school year for the big game only to get benched when the time comes, Marines don’t like sitting on the sidelines when there is still work to do to help the Afghan people.
“I try to look on the bright side of things; I always think it could be a lot worse,” said Brown. “You can’t let it get in your head. De-motivation is an emotional response. When you’re done having your pity party and you stop, take a minute, and think about the good parts, you’ll find some and won’t be de-motivated anymore. Sometimes it’s hard, but if you do it, it’s the best thing for you.”
Brown also said having the opportunity to work alongside Afghan National Security Forces inspires him to keep his head held high.
“They want to see a better Afghanistan – they wouldn’t be here if they didn’t want to be,” said Brown. “They want something good for their country, and that motivates me.”
The motivation seems to travel full circle as Brown holds his fellow Marines responsible for contributing to his positivity.
“I have great friends and great leadership – anytime I need to talk to anyone, I can,” Brown said. “Last night my sergeant took me aside after seeing I was bummed about not getting mail. He talked to me for about five minutes and Bam! De-motivation gone, motivated instantly.”
Brown uses a logical way of thinking to battle the difficult parts of deployment. With no running water, little sleep, constant working parties to accomplish tasks around the outpost, long hours standing duty, and the looming threat of the insurgency, Brown keeps on smiling and continues to affect the Marines around him in a positive way.
“His positive mood is contagious,” said Bull. “Having him around when you’re having a bad day just lifts you up.”
Editor’s note: Third Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 1, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which 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.
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This work, Detroit native keeps smilin’ through deployment, by Sgt Jeff Drew, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.