Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Shawn Cole is responsible for three other Marines during his seven-month deployment to Afghanistan’s Helmand province. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Colby W. Brown
Face of Defense: Lance Corporal Leads Fire Team
By Marine Corps Cpl. Colby W. Brown
Regimental Combat Team 1
HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan, May 23, 2011 – Rocks crunch under the boots of a Marine walking a seemingly endless patrol route. He scans 360 degrees for suspicious activity as the sun slides beneath the horizon. It’s getting late; if he wasn’t on patrol, it would be dinner time.
He hums the chorus of a song, which bounces off the walls of an empty house he passes. His fire team hums along, but no one smiles or laughs. Their eyes scour the terrain, and their ears are tuned for trouble.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Shawn Cole stops mid-hum. His fire team halts, and the chorus comes to an abrupt rest. Instead of thinking about how long they’ve been walking, they hone in on something. Despite the improvements in the Garmsir district here, even a farmer digging in his field could signal danger ahead – maybe an improvised explosive device.
After a tense moment, the muffled crunch of boot upon stone resumes. Trouble never materializes, and the patrol moves on.
“After about four or five hours of just walking, it’s hard to stay concentrated,” Cole said. “So, I try to keep my Marines attentive and fresh. We pore over the ground, walls and trees, looking for IEDs and anything suspicious. Singing is a way I try to keep things fresh [and] make sure my Marines aren’t being sucked into the monotony of patrol”
The blond, blue-eyed 21-year-old said he joined the Corps because he had always been interested in the military and he wanted to be a part of something bigger than himself. His second tour in Afghanistan gives him that satisfaction.
Cole is a fire team leader with the Guard Force Platoon, 1/3, which provides security throughout the district....
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