Iraq (Nov. 26, 2004) - An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the “Bulls” of Strike Fighter Squadron Three Seven (VFA-37), conducts a mission over Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). VFA-37 is assigned to Carrier Air Wing Three (CVW-3), currently embarked aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt Erik Gudmundson (RELEASED)

“US Air Force (USAF) Second Lieutenant (2LT) Sandra McDonald completes her portion of the Iraq/Boston Marathon at Tallil Air Base (AB), Iraq, as she passes her baton to USAF SENIOR MASTER Sergeant (SMSGT) Vic Talinni to start his portion of the 26.2 mile course. Both are deployed with the 407th Expeditionary Communications Squadron (ECS) at Tallil AB in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, 4/18/2005″

Series: Combined Military Service Digital Photographic Files, 1982 - 2007
Record Group 330: Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1921 - 2008

Today is the 121st running of the Boston Marathon!

Today’s post comes via Nora Sutton, one of our interns from the Department of State’s Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) program. Nora is finishing her Master’s in Public History at West Virginia University this semester.

When on the flightdeck of a carrier it pays to have your head on a swivel!

An EA-6B Prowler assigned to the “Gray Wolves” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 142 prepares to land on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Raul Moreno Jr./Released)

“Every Veterans Day since I came here in 2012, when I got out of the Marines, we’ve been doing this thing called National Roll Call and what we do is we read the names of all of our killed in action from Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn. That’s all of our KIA since 9/11. This year it’s 6,831 names that we’ll be reading and it usually takes us six and a half to seven hours to do. We started at 2 and we end today, roughly around 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. We’ve been doing this as a way to show solidarity for the guys who didn’t make it back and to show our appreciation for them. Even though it is Veterans Day, we try to memorialize them with this.

I joined the Marine Corp in 2007 in Bellevue, Nebraska, a small town south of Omaha. I left two weeks after high school and served five years. I was a Presidential Helicopter Crew Chief for President Bush and President Obama at HMX 1, a presidential helicopter squadron here in Quantico, Virginia. So I did five years there, it was awesome. I got out in 2012 and didn’t really feel like going back to Nebraska, so I ended up here. I’m studying political science. I’m a senior. I’ll be graduating in May and then I’ll be getting my commission and going back in the Marine Corp. I’m super stoked about that.

I’ve always wanted to be a marine since as far back as I can remember. I just loved it. My dad was Navy; I grew up in a Navy family. We moved around everywhere. I was born in Panama. I’ve lived in Florida, Spain, Italy, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, and got stationed in Virginia. This is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. Five years when I was enlisted and I’ve been going to school here for four years, so nine years.”

Warrior Wednesday: Captain Gil Juarez (San Diego, CA) kicks off the assault by U.S. Marines of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion 3rd Marines, as they make their final attack, completing a push from north to south to the main road that divides the city November 9, 2004 in Fallujah, Iraq. On the authority of Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, U.S. and Iraqi forces are currently engaged in a battle to take back control of the city ahead of planned nationwide elections in January.

Photo courtesy of: Scott Peterson/Getty Images

Myself (back row, left) and my machine gun squad, Weapons Platoon, Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, attached to Task Force Tarawa, fully loaded in our MOPP suits and waiting on the birds to to pick us up in Kuwait and take us to Nasiriyah, Iraq, April 2003. Hard to believe this pic was taken 13 years ago. I can still remember it like it was yesterday.