In 2006, the War on Drugs was running strong and concurrent with the Global War on Terrorism. As part of that effort, Petty Officer 2nd Class Shawn VanDiver, a fire controlman, deployed to waters off of Central and South America as the lead technician for the Mark 92 Fire Control System, work center supervisor of the work groups within combat systems fire control and gunnery divisions, and anti-terrorism officer. For the next six months, his unit patrolled waters infested with drug runners. Deployed on the USS Thach, the crew took in 29.2 tons of cocaine as well as several tons of marijuana. Thach and her crew were recognized with multiple unit awards for their efforts. This is VanDiver’s story.
I don’t have many pictures of my first deployment, to Iraq in 2006 and 2007, which lasted (counting Kuwait) nearly 16 months. I got rid of most of them, just like I got rid of most of my letters from the time as well. I wasn’t worried about forgetting. The few pictures that I do have were saved on accident, hidden away in desktop files or Facebook albums and forgotten about.
In 2006, U.S. Marine Cpl. Lydia Davey, a community relations chief at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan as an individual augment to Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan. The unit was coordinating the efforts of the International Security Assistance Force and the U.S. diplomatic mission there.
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.