At every base, no matter how primitive, there is a table set for the fallen troop. It is a sobering remembrance of war.
Tony Perry writes in the LA Times on January 22, 2011:
When the Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment, deployed to the Sangin district of Afghanistan's Helmand province in late September, the British soldiers who had preceded them warned the Americans that the Taliban would be waiting nearly everywhere for a chance to kill them.
But the Marines, ordered to be more aggressive than the British had been, quickly learned that the Taliban wasn't simply waiting.
In Sangin, the Taliban was coming after them.
In four years there, the British had lost more than 100 soldiers, about a third of all their nation's losses in the war.
In four months, 24 Marines with the Camp Pendleton-based Three-Five have been killed.
More than 140 others have been wounded, some of them catastrophically, losing limbs and the futures they had imagined for themselves.
The Marines' families have been left devastated, or dreading the knock on the door.