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I recently received a forwarded email asking for prayers for the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines known as "Darkhorse," "currently fighting in Afghanistan." It asked for prayers for the Battalion and their families who "lost nine Marines in four days." It argued that the press had not said anything about it and that the message needed to be forwarded to as many people as you can to let them know and to pray.
I went to Google to see if there was anything about these nine Marines and their Darkhorse Battalion. The first item in the line up was a Snopes review of this email. I found out that the email sent to me was not what it was represented to be, as it was relating something that was at least a year old. Its earnest appeal sounded like it was a recent happening and that the media had paid no attention to the loss of these Marines. That email is yet another example of how important it is to follow up on these things to find out if they are really true before you join the crowd and send it on. When I first read it, it got my ire up, but I'm glad that I followed my instincts to check the story out first.
The Snopes review did give me the real facts about the 5th Marines Darkhorse Battalion, though. That unit lost not nine Marines but 24 during their time in Afghanistan participating in Operation Enduring Freedom. That's almost a whole platoon lost. They were in Afghanistan from October of 2010 until their return to Camp Pendleton in April of 2011.
The press did cover this unit. Several newspapers and the Associated Press ran accounts concerning the fighting these Marines encountered "in one of the most violent places in Afghanistan, the Sangin district of Helmand Province. This was the last remaining sanctuary in Helmand where the Taliban can freely process the opium and heroin that largely fund the insurgency." (Associated Press)
Another AP report from November 2010 covered their story in some depth. It described how the Marines were saying that they were "literally in a race for their lives. They were trying to adjust their tactics to outwit Taliban fighters, who had killed more coalition troops here than in any other area of Afghanistan." They were a new unit when they went in, full of younger Marines who were having to cope with seeing their best friends die and incurring horrendous wounds in battle for the first time. This article was written a month after the unit's arrival in Afghanistan. In that brief period of time they had already lost 15 Marines and 50 had been wounded.
The Darkhorse, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines were hit hard during their time in Afghanistan. Though the email that started my reflection was misleading, it is clear to me that these Marines still deserve our prayers and support. They suffered heavy losses and I'm sure those losses are still on the minds of the survivors and the families of those that were killed and wounded. So, I will do one thing that that email requested: I will forward the request for prayers. Remember these Marines. Remember what they have given and that those sacrifices were for all of us. Semper Fi, Marines! Semper Fi!