In July 2011, I embedded with Third Squad, First Platoon, Blackfoot Company, 1/5 Marines, in Helmand Province’s Sangin District. While there, I shot diptych portraits of the young men of this one Marine squad—in uniform in color, out of uniform in black and white—and interviewed them, in the middle of their seven-month tour, about their thoughts on Afghanistan, the dangers they faced, and what they had learned about the realities of war. By the time they returned to Camp Pendleton, California, three months later, First Platoon had suffered 50 percent casualties—including three deaths and a half-dozen traumatic amputations, all caused by pressure-plate IEDs. The slideshows I have produced, with the assistance of Jesse Dukes, document Third Squad, as they coped with the sorrow and stress of war.
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In the first segment, “Life in Sangin,” four of Third Squad’s Marines describe daily life in one of southern Afghanistan’s bloodiest districts.
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In the second segment, “Danger and Death,” four of Third Squad’s Marines reflect on living with the constant threat of death and dismemberment.
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In the final segment, “What We Know,” three of Third Squad’s Marines and their Navy Hospital Corpsman talk about what they’ve learned at war—and what they’ll share with friends and family at home.