A U.S. veteran’s message for Memorial Day (audio)

Scott Peterson/The Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images
US Marines of the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance (LAR) company (Captains Cameron Albin and Gil Juarez, left to right, with another of the unit’s Marines) called in air support to help deal with a nearby firefight in Fallujah, Iraq, in November 2004.

In 2004, I was embedded in Fallujah, Iraq, with the scouts of the U.S. Marine Raider Platoon of Charlie Company, 1st Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. The unit’s mission: to clear the city of insurgents who had turned it into a hub for kidnapping and bomb-making.

It was a costly monthlong offensive, with more than 70 Americans killed in the biggest fight for the U.S. Marine Corps since Hue City in Vietnam, in 1968. The Fallujah offensive was just one battle in the Iraq War, which claimed the lives of more than 4,400 American servicemen and several hundred thousand Iraqis, at least.

During house-to-house fighting in Fallujah I got to know some of the Marines, including Capt. Cameron Albin, who now lives near Fort Worth, Texas.

Captain Albin survived three tours in Iraq and earned a reputation for a quick tongue and a quiet intellectualism. Like many of his comrades, he’s struggled with the memory of fallen comrades. He’s experienced post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol abuse, and the suicide of friends.

After years of rehabilitation, Captain Albin has turned a corner. He is now a father. He’s teaching while working on a Ph.D. He finds solace in sailing.

We hadn’t spoken in five years – since the 10th anniversary of Fallujah. For Memorial Day, I gave him a call. I’m honored to share his remembrances, and part of our conversation.

LISTEN: A U.S. veteran’s message for Memorial Day

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