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In addition to round-the-clock drinking, barbecuing, and restaurant-hopping in search of free and cheap eats, holiday weekends also mean last-minute safety briefs. A tradition all its own, a safety brief is a three- to five-minute preemptive ass-chewing, where an exhausted-looking platoon commander or sergeant begs his troops not to act like savages over the long weekend: “Don’t drink and drive, don’t drink and surf, don’t drink and skydive — if you do skydive, bring a parachute. If you do get too drunk, call (number of the poor schmuck on duty). If you see me at the bar, don’t talk to me. I hate you all.”

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Photo via U.S. Marine Corps

On March 22, 2009, Cpl. Michael W. Ouellette, 28, was leading his squad on a foot patrol in the Now Zad district of northern Helmand province, Afghanistan, when an improvised explosive device detonated beneath his feet.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph DiGirolamo

It’s been just over three years since I left the Marines and while I don’t regret my decision to leave, I’ve come to realize that there are aspects of my military service that I miss. I served from 20082012 as a combat correspondent, and during my time in I spent two deployments in Afghanistan with 1st Battalion, 6th Marines.

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