EUGENE, Ore. -- It’s a rare moment, but when the battlefield goes quiet, Marines in Marjah, Afghanistan wonder when the enemy will strike.
“It makes you really nervous because it’s like you’re going out into Marjah and when it’s quiet you feel like the clock is just ticking,” said Cali Bagby. “You’re wondering when it’s going to hit because it’s too quiet.”
Morrison, a University of Oregon School of Journalism and Commuications instructor, and Bagby, a graduate of the SOJC, teamed up in August to cover the war in Afghanistan for KVAL.com by sending articles, pictures and videos of life in a combat zone. The pair joined the Oregon Marines from 2nd Platoon of the 6th Engineer Support Battalion (ESB). Bagby and Morrison spent the summer months in Marjah, Afghanistan, a district known for violence.
“As soon as you go outside the wire you know that your very next step could be your very last step,” said Morrison. “And every step you take could be the last step you ever take.”
Morrison said the Taliban’s use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) makes patrols especially dangerous.
“You just don’t see these things,” said Morrison. “That’s a danger you just have to come to accept when you get out of camp.”
Bagby and Morrison said IEDs and roadside bombs are responsible for the majority of injuries and fatalities in Afghanistan, but Marines also face firefights in the field. Morrison and Bagby said they experienced several firefights and they said you can tell how close you were to being hit by a bullet just by sound alone.
“If you hear a pop that means someone has fired in your general direction,” said Morrison. “If you hear a snap that means the bullet itself has come close enough to your head that you heard the bullet break the sound barrier as it went by.”
Bagby and Morrison say Marines put their lives on the line on a daily basis by going on patrols outside of the wire. Bagby said the sacrifice Marines are making needs to be recognized by the American people.
“I think that we’ve been in Afghanistan for so long now that the American people have lost touch,” said Bagby. She adds, “A lot of that is going on and it’s hard to reconnect.”