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It was the summer of 2012 and the most dangerous part of the mission – when soldiers get complacent and make mistakes. So, even in 130-degree heat, Cpl. Randy Derstine and his men of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, patrolled hard in the mountainous, heavily disputed Kajaki Dam area of Helmand province.

Between missions, they broke their remote firebase down to the nails and plywood. They were going home. Derstine’s commanders explained that this was not your usual “RIP” or swap-out with a follow-on unit. (In the military RIP stands for “Relief in Place” – not “Rest In Peace”).

This was nothing less than the end of an era – U.S. Marines had been active in Helmand since the spring of 2008, when a pre-surge Marine company inserted by helicopter into the Taliban stronghold of Garmser.

Read more at NBC News

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