Shortly before US Marines began their operation earlier this month in Afghanistan's Helmand province, a member of the unit known as "America's Battalion" wrote a letter to his grandmother.
Lance Cpl. Charles Seth Sharp of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, wrote that he would soon be fighting in a mission his grandchildren would learn about in history class.
Sharp was among some 4,000 Marines deployed by helicopter and armored transport throughout the volatile Helmand River valley in an effort to counter the Taliban insurgency. Just days after he mailed the letter, Sharp, 20, died in battle. He was the first Marine killed in the offensive.
Last week, Sharp was buried in his hometown of Adairsville, in rural northwestern Georgia.