Marines of the 3/5 “Darkhorse” Seven Months in Afghanistan

Lt. Col. Jason Morris pays his respects at a memorial service in Sangin, Afghanistan, on Nov. 26, 2010, for three Marines who were killed: Lance Cpl. Brandon Pearson, Lance Cpl. Matthew Broehm and 1st Lt. Robert Kelly. Morris commanded a battalion in volatile Helmand province that suffered the highest casualty rate of any Marine unit in the Afghanistan War. Photo by Lance Cpl. Joseph M. Peterson/U.S. Marine Corps.

A year ago, nearly 1,000 U.S. Marine officers and enlisted men of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment deployed to restive Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. By the time their tour ended in April 2011, the Marines of the 3/5 — known as “Darkhorse” — suffered the highest casualty rate of any Marine unit during the past 10 years of war. This week, NPR tells the story of this unit’s seven long months at war — both in Afghanistan and back home.

First of seven parts

With his brown checkered sport coat, blue shirt and tie, Jason Morris could easily be mistaken for a young professor. Only the close-cropped hair and stocky build might suggest a military life.

Lt. Col. Morris served as a Marine officer during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and witnessed heavy combat in the push toward Baghdad.

But it’s his experience in Afghanistan during the past year that lingers: Morris commanded the Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment, which lost 25 troops during its seven-month-long deployment, the highest casualty rate of any Marine unit during the Afghan war.

These days, he is studying for a master’s degree at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. Standing on a sea wall there, Morris looks at sailboats slicing through the bay.

You can read the rest of the NPR story by Tom Bowman and hear the radio report HERE.

%d bloggers like this: