2011 Third Squad
Patrol Base Fires, Sangin District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan
3rd Squad, 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines
Name and Rank: Lance Corporal David Ortega
Hometown: Beaumont, California
Why did you join the Marines?
"I have a lot of family that’s in the Marine Corps . . . my mom’s worked on the base for so long that whenever she took me to work, I would just always look up to the Marines and I was like, I’m gonna become one of them someday."
Describe Sangin for someone back home:
"The Helmand River that runs through makes it look nice, and then the green zone makes it look even better. I was coming here thinking it was gonna be all desert, and then when I seen all the trees and all the poppy and the flowers from the poppy, I thought it looked like a really neat place to be."
What do you think about the Taliban?
"The Taliban fighters, they’re not stupid. A lot of people say they’re stupid but they’re good at what they do. They observe us, they watch our routes and they watch everything that we do for awhile, and then they hit us with IEDs on routes that we take or treelines that we take constantly, and they have complex ambushes in areas that we walk normally."
What is the worst part about your job?
"The hardest part of what we do out here is probably watching our friends get hurt or pass away."
Do you think the emotional weight of what you've experience will catch up to you?
"I think they try to keep our minds off of it as much as they can 'cause we’re always constantly working out here, but when we go home it might be a different story, it might not."
Is it weird to think you were just in high school two years ago?
"I knew what I was doing when I went to go talk to the recruiter because it was a time of war, and I knew I was gonna get sent out here, but just being in this situation, it’s kind of shocking."
Will you re-enlist?
"I’m planning to re-enlist. I wanna re-enlist because this i
- @ Elliott D. Woods 2011
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