Story by Sgt. Dean Davis-PARGHEE BAGAT, Afghanistan -- As the patrol trudged through waist-deep water, Cpl. Matt Davis called over to his point man.
"Keep watch over the far side of the water, there are quite a few buildings over that way," said Davis. With daylight waining, the 25-year-old infantryman brought his team into a wide circle and waited for darkness to cover the village.
The Marines of Charlie Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion arrived here a few weeks ago. Patrols like this one go out at least daily, usually more.
"We have really been trying to learn this area and its people, and these Marines continue to impress me," said Capt. Jason Ford, commander of C Company. "There is no limit to their potential- they don't get tired. These men are ready to do battle with the enemy, and they are always looking to do the right thing."
With enemy lines that are often unclear, the Marines of C Company use patrols like these as a baseline to gauge changes in the area. But when they go to meet the neighbors, it isn't like going next door for coffee and cookies.
"A thorn just stuck right through my boot," said Davis, more amused than concerned.
The terrain here is uneven at best. The fine sand in open areas makes moving forward difficult enough in the 115-degree heat. But, if firm footing is found, it comes with waist-high nettle, and rocks that seem fashioned for twisting ankles.
"It can be difficult sometimes. With the heat and the gear, it can weigh on you," said Davis, a Modesto, Calif., native. "But we push through all that. That's what Marines are about."
If the job is hard, the Marines here must be a little harder, because it's a mission that Marines like Lance Cpl. Naoto Nakamura, a scout team leader, are determined to do well. "I know for guys going out on combat patrols, especially for the first or second time, they might be jittery- I know I was. But in this type of war, you can't treat everyone like they're a hostile," said Nakamura, 21, from Boulder, Colo. "The people here want what most people want. They don't want to live under oppression, and that's exactly what the Taliban is doing to them."
That sentiment is exactly what many Marine leaders have come to expect from their men: a trustworthy friend to the people, a relentless hunter of the enemy.
"These people have had it hard. War has been going on for more than 30 years here," said Ford, 32, from San Lorenzo, Calif. "I can't imagine what it would be like to grow up in that. So, a little compassion and sympathy can help us understand how we can really help the people."
In this area, C Company's professionalism and resilience, will be put to the test. They will pursue the Taliban, to help provide a better life for Afghanistan's people.
"For as hard as it can be sometimes…" said Nakamura. "It's satisfying to know that we are helping the people. That's what this is about."