By Randy Schafer – Associate Editor
Steven Seawright was forced to decide whether visiting his fallen and returned comrades from Afghanistan was more important than pursuing his academic career.Seawright served as a Lance Cpl. in the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines of Lima Company until July 2010, three months before his battalion was shipped out to the Sangin district of Afghanistan.
He was faced with the decision of visiting the returned marines at the end of this semester.“So all the guys I was with last July, about half the guys I know, are missing arms and legs,” said 23-year-old GPC freshmen Seawright. “I’ve got close friends and roommates that have died and I’m kind of sitting here working at Pikes and going to school…”
According to ABC News, The Marines of the 3-5 began returning home to Camp Pendleton in California, April 12, from their bloody and devastating eight month tour. The battalion endured a record amount of casualties in the Afghan war zone with 25 dead, 140 wounded, and over a dozen with amputated limbs.
The somber tone underlying Seawright’s voice matches his tired demeanor at 2 a.m. in the living room of his home in Mountain Park, as he describes his helplessness and frustration over the loss of his fellow brethren.
“You talk to these people every day, the next thing you know you’re looking at pictures of them as quadriplegics… it sucks, it’s real and it’s unreal… it’s crazy,” said Seawright in disbelief.
For a brief moment, Seawright’s voice has a flicker of cheerfulness as he describes Sgt. Mathew Abbate, from his battalion, which is quickly diminished after revealing his fellow marine and trainee died in battle early December 2010.
“He was the biggest badass on the planet… Diesel mother*****r…” He pauses for a moment and sighing in hesitation, “Dead… He was my roommate. They told me he left a safe position to go and drag people into a safe area and got shot.”Seawright shifts his weight in his seat, as he describes his frustrations with how long the war on terror has continued to drag on without a glimmer of solution.
“When you’re not fighting a nation and you’re fighting an idea, that s**t’s impossible to kill, and it’s going to keep going and going and going,”
Unhappy with his current decision to stay at home and continue attending classes, Seawright checks pictures and statuses of his fellow marines on Facebook.
“I couldn’t really make it out for the funeral,” he said. “Every-body is out in California and I’m in school. It’s almost the end of the semester; I can’t just take a week off school.”
Seawright plans on visiting his friends in California after the semester is over.
“In the Marine Corps, we have a saying if anybody ever said “America’s at war.” You know, the Marine Corps’ at war, America’s at the mall,” he said with a hint of annoyance and tired sarcasm.Students or staff interested in helping out wounded veterans and their families can go to www.woundedwarriorproject.org to make donations or learn how to do volunteer work.
GPC student veterans can contact the Bob Knowles, the Military Outreach Coordinator of the Military Resource Center for GPC at firstname.lastname@example.org.