WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2010 — When Marine Corps Cpl. Bryan Lett deployed to Afghanistan earlier this year, he decided to create a video blog of his life on the ground there so his family could share in his experiences.
|Marine Corps Cpl. Bryan Lett prepares for a patrol during his deployment in Afghanistan. |
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He never imagined he’d gain a worldwide audience in the process.
Although he’s back in the United States now, The Afghan Blog, located at http://www.youtube.com/user/TheAfghanBlog, has gained a loyal following on YouTube, with thousands of hits.
“It came to me as a way to show my family, my mom, I’m OK, this is what I’m doing,” said Lett, a native of Columbus, Ohio. “But as I started to get further in my deployment, it became almost therapeutic to do a sit down … and kind of get it out of my head.”
Lett said he also wanted to show other Marines, particularly those early on in their careers or wanting to join, a realistic portrayal of deployment.
Lett deployed to Afghanistan in January as a public affairs specialist assigned to American Forces Network Afghanistan. His training made him handy with a video camera, but he wanted to approach the blog from a personal level, so he kept it unscripted and unedited.
Nearly every entry begins with Lett peering into the camera, speaking candidly about his life in Afghanistan.
Lett tried to get “outside the wire” as often as possible and highlighted events on his blog such as a veterinarian civil affairs project in which servicemembers helped vaccinate livestock. He also showed rule-of-law training and medical training conducted with Afghan security forces.
In one entry, taken a few months into his deployment, Lett bared his soul about some of the atrocities he’d seen and the shots he had to fire.
“I was on a combat outpost … and they tried to overrun it, about 20 to 25 members of the Taliban,” he said. “There was one individual that was obviously firing at me. I fired off a couple rounds at him, he kept popping up, and I’d fire again, and he never popped back up.”
He also talked about being a first responder to a mortar attack. The victim had a missing left arm, and a good portion of his chest missing, Lett said, and despite his efforts to save him, the man died a short while later.
Lett was hesitant about shooting that blog, he admitted, but felt obligated to present life during deployment, both good and bad.
“I put that [blog] off for a little while, not wanting to possibly break down on camera or have overly dramatic explanation,” he said. “I needed to do that blog … to create an honest view.”
Lett also infuses some humor into his blogs. Upon his return to the States, he filmed a blog about being “tased” at the Modern Day Marine Expo in Quantico, Va. He shows a succession of Marines hollering at the shock of it.
Lett recently posted his final wrap-up blog from New Hampshire, where he’s now stationed at Marine Corps Recruiting Station Portsmouth.
He said he’s thrilled that he did the video blog, not only for his own memories, but because of the interest from young people interested in joining the Marine Corps.
“It needed to be done,” he said. “Without a doubt, I’m glad I did it.”
His deployment, he describes on his final Afghan blog, “was quite an experience.”
“It was just amazing. It makes you grow as a man in light years,” he said. “You do things, and see things, you never thought possible.”
Lett added that he just reenlisted for four years.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)