We never intended to join the Marines. We didn’t come from military families. We didn’t come from a military town. As a friend once remarked, “Washington’s known for sending other people’s sons to war—never its own.”
But after internships during the summer after our freshman year of college, we had to try something else. Michael had been working in finance, Harrison had been working on Capitol Hill, and we had both been miserable.
In the fall of our sophomore year, we ran into each other at a party. At this point, we still weren’t friends. We’d seen each other around campus a few times, but because we were in different fraternities and because we tended to run in different circles, all we really knew about each other was that we were both from the same part of the country.
We got to talking. We joked about life in a cubicle. We compared notes on our disappointment. We commiserated about how everything we had hoped for in these jobs had seemed like a mirage.
And then Michael brought up a book he’d recently read, a book about the Marine Corps that would go on to change our lives forever.
Seven years since that conversation, a lot has changed. We went through training together. We went to The Fleet together. We deployed to Afghanistan together, in the same unit, each of us commanding outposts just a few miles apart. Michael and his team embedded with the Afghan Police. Harrison and his team embedded with the Afghan Army. To our knowledge, we were in the first infantry battalion to fully partner with the Afghan Security Forces. Our days were spent on partnered patrols hunting insurgents, our nights around communal plates of goat meat and rice, and for seven months starting in the summer of 2011, we got to help turn a city around.
We’re just recently out of the Marine Corps, still reflecting on what our service has meant, still struggling personally with a conversation that America struggles with nationally. Who knows when we’ll figure it out?
But for now, that’s us. It isn’t possible yet to capture and express all that’s changed. Suffice to say we’re two friends, who’ve had some great adventures and some crazy experiences, and we’ve emerged better for it, having learned some difficult lessons along the way.
More to come in the future. Here’s to next chapters and new beginnings.