“Today is the day flags will be placed at the graves of Americans who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country. As the flags are placed they will be followed by the tears of the loved ones who are placing them; a brother, sister, father, or mother. Memorial Day is a day to remember those who have died and be thankful that such people have lived. Think about the courageous Americans that charged the beaches during World War 2, those who froze to death fighting through winters in Korea and bled out over the fields of Vietnam. The ones who never made it home because of another deadly blast throughout the battlefields of Iraq or Afghanistan. Be thankful such people lived and be proud of their service. Their bravery and selfless sacrifice is an inspiration and beacon of hope for us all.”
It was a cold, dark and quiet November night in Marjah, Afghanistan. I was on radio watch in a small room of the mud hut inside the compound located on the edge of a remote village deep in enemy territory. This compound had been home to my platoon, roughly 60 Marines, for the past four months. The four squads were responsible for morning, night and two afternoon patrol shifts as we fought for survival.
On November 9, 2010, one my best friends and fellow Marines, Dakota Huse, was taking his shift on night patrol. Around 2 AM our stomachs dropped as the ground rumbled from an IED (improvised explosive device) in the distance.
The radio traffic crackled with information flowing in from the Marines on patrol, Huse had been killed.
During our training leading up to deployment, I got to know Huse as an individual – not just a Marine. His family in Louisiana called him ‘Cody’ and he was only 19. I could count on him to come chat, bring me coffee and food as I stood guard during my shifts on post every day. We would complain because we were the smallest guys in the platoon and still assigned to carry the heaviest weapons, the SAW (squad automatic weapon). Huse loved card games, candy and we never agreed on the best hot sauce – his vote was Louisiana’s “Crystal” hot sauce.
The day Lance Corporal Dakota Huse died I left a piece of myself in Afghanistan.
Behind every service member is a unique person, a group of loved ones and many tears for their sacrifice.
We live in an amazing country – a country that has been built on the foundation of brave souls who have given their lives and last full measure of devotion. Be thankful that such people lived.
Semper Fidelis Huse.
“If they ever tell my story let them say that I walked with giants. Men rise and fall like the winter wheat, but these names will never die.” -Odysseus