THE LONGEST WAITING GAME
Camp Shorab, the small base that serves as headquarters for the approximately 300 U.S. Marines who returned to Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2017 in response to the rapidly deteriorating security situation there. "It was emotional coming back as Marines,“ says USMC Colonel Matthew Reid. “I don’t think I expected to come back." Over a third of the Marines stationed back in Helmand are veterans of the province and could echo that sentiment: we didn’t expect to come back.
USMC Captain Richard Laszok, who first deployed to Helmand September 2012, recalled saying aloud as he flew out of the province in April 2013: "This is the last time I'm ever going through Leatherneck." Today he says, "The bigger lesson learned is never say never."
Laszok said that when he boards the plane home this time, in 2017, he will not voice those 2012 sentiments. "If I've learned anything about history, it's that it repeats itself. I'm not going to eat those words again."