By the time the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment left Helmand Province in April 2011, 25 Marines were dead, and 184 were wounded – 34 of them amputees.
Among the dead was the son of Four Star Marine Gen. John Kelly. First Lt. Robert Kelly was killed when he stepped on a landmine in November 2010. In 2013, while Gen. Kelly was in charge of U.S. Southern Command, he spoke during a ceremony at Camp Pendleton in San Diego. He urged the Marines to honor those who served their country.
“Never forget your buddies that never made it home,” said Kelly, during the dedication of a memorial to the 5th Regiment’s service in Afghanistan.
A decade after the survivors came home, it’s still difficult to place the legacy of the unit in the long running war. The 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment – nicknamed “Darkhorse” – suffered the highest casualties in the war.
Logan Stark collected hours of footage shot by his fellow Marines as Darkhorse pushed back against the Taliban during heavy fighting. The U.S. Marines had taken over from the British, who had suffered heavy casualties themselves as they tried to keep the area out of the hands of the Taliban.
“This was kind of in that little sweet zone before the Marines started highly regulating people filming stuff,” Stark said.