By Anthony Ward Jr.
Regimental Combat Team 5, 1st Marine Division
KHAN NESHIN DISTRICT, Afghanistan, May 21, 2012 – Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brandon M. Barton is on his second tour of duty here, yet earlier in his life he’d never thought he would find himself wearing a Marine Corps uniform.
“I thought about joining the Marine Corps right out of high school,” Barton, who grew up in Gowanda, N.Y., recalled. “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.
“My brother came up to visit,” Barton recalled. “We started talking, and he asked if I still thought about joining the Marines.”
With a fiancée and a baby on the way, Barton felt an urgent need to change his situation for the better. After a discussion with his loved ones, Barton decided to take the oath of enlistment and become a Marine.
Barton was 19 years old, he said, when he signed up for the Marines’ delayed entry program. About a year later he departed for boot camp.”
Three-and-a-half years into his enlistment, Barton now is married with two children and he has returned to Afghanistan’s Khan Neshin district in southern Helmand province.
“I was deployed to this same area of operations last time, east and west of the Helmand River,” Barton said. “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.
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 [have] as a civilian,” he said.
Though he enjoys spending time with his fellow Marines on deployment, Barton said he’s 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,” he said. “I miss my boys, I miss my wife.”
Despite the longing for his family, Barton understands the responsibility that comes with joining the Marine Corps and the pledge he made to defend his nation.
“You gotta do what you gotta do,” Barton said. “I’ll be home soon enough.”