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Marines ready as they prepare for Afghanistan


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CAMP WILLIAMS -- As the United States intensifies its military mission in Afghanistan, Utah Marines prepare to deploy. We caught up with Charlie Company at the crack of dawn as the Marines trained for their mission.

One-hundred-fifty Marines of Company C Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion tune up and train at Camp Williams to take down the Taliban in Afghanistan. Most are Utahns.

Charlie Company is battle tested. Nearly all have been deployed at least once to Iraq, others are on their second or third deployments.

Company commander Capt. Lamar Breshears said, "Getting ready to go to a combat zone, and the Marines are definitely anxious to get over there and get it going with what we have to do in Afghanistan."

Sgt. William Black, of Provo, said, "I think every war is completely different, and we're preparing for this one as if it's a whole new scenario."

They leave for Camp Pendleton, Calif., in early August, then to Afghanistan in November.

Lance Cpl. Brandon Cochran, of Orem, said, "No anxiety yet. Just maybe worried about my wife a little bit. I love the men I work with, and trust them, so I'm not worried about that at all."

During the days and weeks ahead, the Marines are doing a lot of physical training for the mission, but they're also doing a lot of bonding and trust building as well.

Sgt. Ben Jones, of Salt Lake City, said, "All the preparatory stuff, once you get over there, you feel ready. You have the support of the Marines and your family back home, and it usually goes pretty smoothly."

The motorized infantry unit can cover a lot of ground quickly. In Afghanistan, the Marines will work with local people to prevent Taliban influence.

Capt. Breshears said, "If the Taliban show themselves, we'll deal with that when it comes."

When they signed up, these Marines knew they would go to war.

Cpl. Daniel Mayhew, of West Jordan, said, "I'm really excited to do it. I'm excited to learn more, and I'm motivated to help my Marines out that need the help."

It's a big commitment; the reservists among them have left their jobs and families for 400 days.

Cpl. David Reynolds, of Logan, said, "It's one of our core values as Marines -- honor, courage and commitment. So, we are committed to each other and to serving our country."

"We have a job to do. That's what we signed up to do. We're going to go over and do our best," Capt. Breshears said.

July has been the deadliest month for U.S. forces in the almost 8-year war; 34 have now died. Yet, the men of Charlie Company say they are motivated.

As Sgt. Black said, "The Marines are the few and the proud, sir."

The U.S. has nearly 60,000 troops in Afghanistan, a record number.

E-mail: jboal@ksl.com

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Jed Boal

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