by Anthony Ward JrKHAN NESHIN DISTRICT, Afghanistan – Brandon Barton never thought he would find himself wearing a Marine Corps uniform.
After a bit of time spent working odd jobs, life in the U.S. military began to seem like a more realistic possibility.
“I graduated from Gowanda Senior High School,” said the lance corporal from Gowanda, N.Y.
U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Brandon M. Barton, a light armored vehicle crewman with Charlie Company, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, is on his second deployment to Helmand province’s Khan Neshin district. Barton is a 23 year-old native of Gowanda, N.Y, and is married with twin boys.
“I worked as a conveyor belt technician with a company out of Buffalo,” said Barton. “I worked at the Gowanda Moose with my mother and a local pizzeria.”
During his time as a member of the working class, he put one of his adolescent dreams on the back burner.
“I thought about joining the Marine Corps right out of high school,” said Barton. “I got a good job though, so I just stopped thinking about it.”
About year out of high school and working multiple jobs, Barton reevaluated his decision.
“ I had stopped doing the conveyor belt work and my brother came up to visit,” said Barton. “We started talking and he asked if I still thought about joining the Marines.”
With a fiancée and a baby on the way, he felt an urgent need to change his situation for the better. After a bit more discussion with loved ones, Barton decided to take the oath of enlistment and become a Marine.
“I was 19 when I joined the delayed entry program,” said Barton. “Twenty when I shipped off to boot camp.”
Three and a half years into his first active duty enlistment, Barton is now married with two children and on his second deployment to southern Helmand province’s Khan Neshin district.
“I was deployed to this same AO (area of operations) last time, east and west of the Helmand River,” said Barton. “It was good, running around, meeting new people.”
“You train for it and then you finally get to come out here and apply it,” he added.
After a few years in the Corps, Barton has figured out a few of his favorite things about life as a Marine infantryman.
“My favorite thing about the Marine Corps is the unique experience and the opportunities you have that you wouldn’t as a civilian,” said Barton.
Though he enjoys spending time with his fellow Marines on deployment, Barton is looking forward to getting home and seeing his family at the conclusion of his second Afghanistan tour.
“I have twin boys, and a baby girl on the way in 15 days,” said Barton. “I miss my boys, I miss my wife.”
Despite the longing for his family, Barton understands the responsibility that comes with joining the Marine infantry and the pledge he made to defend his nation in times of conflict.
“You gotta do what you gotta do,” said Barton. “I’ll be home soon enough.”
Editor’s Note: 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5, 1st Marine Division (Forward), which works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The Unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.