Minutes after Daniel Mendez departed to serve his country in parts unknown, thieves were rifling through his home in Leverett’s Chapel, Texas.

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In November 2009, President Barack Obama announced that 30,000 additional U.S. troops would be sent to Afghanistan. Several thousand Marines were deployed to opium-rich Helmand province where the Taliban-held stronghold of Marjah was to be the proving ground for counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan. On Feb. 13, 2010, Marine and coalition forces launched an all out assault on Marjah. The attack was highly publicized and the city's diehard Taliban defenders had spent the previous month's turning Marjah into a heavily mined and well defended stronghold.

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