DW writes that they carry a lot of ammunition on them all the time, including 12 bottles of water and many other materials which add up to 110 pounds in the rucksack and now you start walking. DW says a casual conversation with a marine inspired him to start blogging about life in Afghanistan for the soldiers. (The showers in the camp are as much a part of life for the soldiers.) I thought the people would be amused by this: the men's shower in the morning with Marines slogging in and then every time they use the sink, they have to wipe it clean so it's good for the next Marine. You can't get teenagers to do this and in a war zone these guys wipe down the sink. (How close did you get with the Marines? How did you strike a balance?) They're very likeable people but at the same time I point out that I'm not one of them so I can report accurately. (You talk about losses amongst the Marines but you've gotten news of a loss in your own family.) My mother passed away shortly after I arrived here and it was interesting how the Marines reached out to me with expressions of support and friendship. The death of my mother gave me an insight to how we're depriving many soldiers of important personal moments in their lives at home, such as the birth of a child, etc.