Two Marines walk the dusty streets at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Dec. 18. As the final U.S. forces departed Iraq, nearly 100,000 American troops continued counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan.
Photo by Cpl. Brian Adam Jones
By Brian Adam Jones
I have a rather polite alarm clock next to my bed.
At night, it douses my room in a cool, blue light. In the morning, it gently nudges me awake with soft tones that gradually increase in severity. The clock offers a welcome contrast to the lonely and gritty discomfort of Afghanistan, to the very concept of War.
But at 5 a.m. on Christmas morning, I was not happy to hear it.
Grumpy and bleary-eyed, I pulled on my desert camouflage uniform and laced up my boots. I’m sure my sentiment was echoed by the other American military men and women spending Christmas away from home.
As a combat journalist and communications specialist with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) in Helmand province, Afghanistan, my Christmas morning was spent facilitating a live interview between a Detroit television station and two hometown heroes.
Not far away, on adjacent Camp Bastion, Marine Corps UH-1Y Hueys lifted off into the cold morning air.
Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 launched Operation Noel, an effort to deliver care packages and Christmas cheer to Marines in remote outposts that don’t regularly receive mail and don’t enjoy the relative safety I have here at Camp Leatherneck.
While most of the remaining American forces in Iraq were able to make it home in time for Christmas, nearly 100,000 other U.S. troops spent Christmas morning in Afghanistan, quietly working as a part of an international coalition to create an increasingly peaceful and independent infrastructure here.