USA — Marine Portrays Deployment Via Video Blog

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. Courtesy photo
Marine Corps Cpl. Bryan Lett pre­pares for a patrol dur­ing his deploy­ment in Afghanistan.
Cour­tesy pho­to
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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, 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)

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