CAMP LEATHERNECK, AFGHANISTAN
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Helmand province, Afghanistan – A lot has changed since Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first Postmaster General in 1775. We no longer depend on the Pony Express to take mail from one side of the country to another. Social networking sites and e-mail have replaced hand-written letters offering an almost instant connection to service members deployed thousands of miles from home.
Whatever the method of delivery, each word, whether typed or written, sent overseas or through phone lines helps melt away the stress of a deployment.
“Every time you go out on a mission and come back, you’re tired and stressed,” said Kingsport, Tenn., native Lance Cpl. Nicolas Metcalf, a rifleman with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. “You’re always working, there is always something to do, and the mail is a break that allows you to escape from what’s going on here for a moment.”
Social networking sites and e-mails are a great way to stay in touch quickly and efficiently, but hand-written letters filled with pictures of loved ones offer an old-fashioned, personal touch.
“If I could ask for anything it would be a letter – it’s always good to read someone else’s thoughts,” said West Palm Beach, Fla., native Lance Cpl. Anthony Quintanilla, a videographer with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. “That always takes your mind off of things – that and pictures. My sister went to Michigan and she sent me pictures. They took my mind away from being at risk and took me to a cool, calm place.”
Pictures and letters can also come in the best thing of all: care packages. Nothing can beat a box filled with goodies to pass the time and provide a touch of home.
“My wife sends me videos of my son,” said Greenville, S.C., native Petty Officer 3rd Class Eden L. Richardson, a corpsman with Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division (Forward). “Every time I get a care package, it’s a lot like Christmas morning; it makes your whole day better – makes you feel closer to home.”
Some Marines and sailors take their time and open their present slowly, preserving the integrity of the box, while others can’t wait to get inside to see what their loving family members and friends sent them. It’s an exquisite feeling, like opening a treasure chest filled with shampoos, candy, healthy snacks and clothes. Most children would be upset to receive socks on Christmas morning, but to a deployed Marine, it can be one of the best gifts they receive.
Whether it is a quick e-mail, an online post, a snail-mail letter or the coveted care package, taking a moment to show a service member he is missed can make his day.
“Sometimes, I get cards from people I don’t know, showing their support,” said Richardson. “It shows me that there are really people out there who appreciate what we’re doing.”
Editor’s note: Third Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5, 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, Christmas morning: When deployed Marines receive care packages, by Sgt Jeff Drew, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.