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Hearts & Minds

Pfc Wilton: Our primary job being in the infantry is to locate, close with and destroy the enemy. When we're not doing that, we are a friendly force and a face to the people to help them with their needs, trying to rebuild the area. Our job is not only to fight and destroy the enemy, but we also provide a lot of help and support to all the people in the area.

Sgt Burke: There were the people, we were there overall, to improve the quality of life for the citizens in Marjah and to help push the insurgency out.

LCpl Black: When we went to Marjah, we got to interact with locals every day. It's funny how much a smile can affect someone and convey a message. The Afghan people really want change, and you can see that over the seven months we were deployed.

Sgt Nold: It was a very slow progression, making friends with people, talking to people, trying to show them that we're there to do more than blow stuff up.

Sgt Villanueva: Kids start to come up to you. Grown men start to approach you, shake your hand. The kids smile at you, they come up to you and hug your neck and shake your hand and that's probably the most rewarding part of Marjah.

Sgt Burke: One of the elders asked us if we could look at his 8-year-old son. His 8-year-old son was sick. Having that level of trust and faith in us, that really kind of sealed the deal for me.

Sgt Nold: Eventually as you walk through day by day, they start opening up; their kids come out and talk to you and tell you where the bad guys are at and where's the danger. And eventually the danger just stops, and it's a completely different place.