Marine Darkhorse Battalion: Life on the Homefront

NPR Reporter Tom Bowman. Photo by Jacques Coughlin - courtesy of

Twitter, Facebook and the United State’s all voluntary military have changed how families experience war. Marine wives set up Google alerts to get immediate notification if there’s trouble in the region where their husbands are serving. Others lament that less than 1 percent of the population serve in the military. They believe many of the remaining 99 percent are unattached and unknowing about the everyday sacrifices and struggles experienced by military families.

In his final of seven stories on the Marine Darkhorse Battalion, National Public Radio’s Tom Bowman  talks about what it’s like for the Marine families who wait at home.

Part seven of seven

LAURA SULLIVAN, host: All week, we’ve been reporting on one Marine unit. They’re called Darkhorse. And they had a horrific deployment to Afghanistan about a year ago. They lost 25 Marines and many, many more were wounded.

NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman has been telling their stories. And Tom’s here in the studio with me now because we wanted to learn a little bit more about these Marines and their families and how they made it through. Tom, thanks so much for joining us.

TOM BOWMAN: Hi, Laura.

SULLIVAN: I’ve listened to all of your reporting this week, and I think what I’ve never heard before was the detail about what it’s like both for the families and for the Marines in the field.

BOWMAN: Right. My producer, Amy Walters and I, we wanted to give our listeners a better sense of what happened here, why this Marine unit suffered so many casualties. But we also wanted to explore the connection between the deployed Marines and the families back home.

SULLIVAN: We got a lot of response to your series at and on Facebook. And many said bring the troops home and many were saddened by the losses, by the stories of the widows. And we contacted a few of them. Here’s one of them. Her name is Emily Kelly(ph). Her husband is in the Army, and he just deployed to Afghanistan.

EMILY KELLY: The American public needs to hear more of these stories of sacrifice, pain and loss. During World War II, the entire country was at war. Everyone knew someone who had been killed or wounded in action. Today, less than two percent of our countrymen and women serve in the military and it increasingly appears that only their families and close friends even realize that there’s actually a war that we’re losing men and women and weekly. Thank you, NPR, for telling stories like this well, with respect and simply for remembering that many of us sacrifice so much for a country that has largely forgotten us.

SULLIVAN: Tom, I just want to get your reaction to that.

BOWMAN: Well, you know, it’s funny. That’s a theme you often hear from Marines and soldiers and their families that very few people serve today, and there’s really no shared sacrifice at all, like you saw during World War II.

SULLIVAN: Was there anything in the series that surprised you in your reporting?

You can read the full transcript or listen to Tom Bowman’s interview HERE.


One Response

  1. Thank you Bobbie for this series!

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