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Angell returns from Afghanistan

WINSTED — Laurel City native Aaron Angell, a major in the U.S. Marines, is back on American soil after a six-month tour in the Helmland Province of Afghanistan, where the mission was to help reconstruction efforts in the war-torn nation.Afghanistan has been occupied by United States and international forces since shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.Angell sent back photos of explosives being detonated, troops mingling with Afghan locals, roads under construction and helicopters flying over the province. His dispatches presented a ground-eye view of efforts to win over the Afghan population and defeat an insurgency that has plagued the nation throughout the past decade.On Saturday, Feb. 11, Angell announced that he would be home in three weeks, and sent a photo of a Marine Corps Assault Breaching Vehicle (ABV) — one of the Marines’ “mean machines” that clears lanes through minefields by detonating and deflecting explosives in its path. The ABV pictured is shown crossing the Helmland River over a temporary floating bridge constructed by the U.S. Army’s Multi-Role Bridging Company.“Being a logistics guy, I see these and immediately think about how many parts and how much fuel is needed to keep those ABVs operating, and how many trucks it takes to move those bridging sections to the proper place,” Angell noted. “Those are the types of questions that keep me busy every day. For what it’s worth, I still sometimes stop and think about how cool this stuff is.”On the following Saturday, Feb. 18, Angell sent a photo of a sign outside the Marines’ “sort lot,” where containers of excess items are kept.“At one point, these items were expected to be necessary, but thus far they have not been used,” he said. “What this sign shows is that from Nov. 15 to today we have recovered more than $51 million worth of supplies that are in the process of being retrograded out of Afghanistan and back to our parts shelves in the United States.” Angell said his team was proud to be able to achieve the savings and to leave as little a mark as possible on the land they occupied.“Our Marines are doing amazing things in support of reducing the footprint in Afghanistan, just as their brothers and sisters on the other side of that supply lot are working hard to keep sustaining our warfighters out in forward locations,” he said.On Monday, Feb. 20, Angell noted that it was 65 degrees and sunny in the Helmland Province but that recent rains had flooded his base.“The ground here is dry and hard, so the water is not absorbed too quickly,” he noted.Angell enclosed a photo of himself with two of his closest friends on his team and said that everyone was happy to be heading home. Angell and his wife, Megan, planned to move into a new house on base at Cape Hatteras, N.C., where he will continue his career as a marine before taking a trip north to visit family in Ohio, Massachusetts and Connecticut. “My experience out here has been extremely rewarding,” Angell wrote in one of his last posts from Afghanistan. “Hopefully the pictures I have sent and some of the stories and short explanations helped to paint a picture of what the Marines out here have been doing. One of the greatest accomplishments of the Marine team was clearing and controlling the road to the Kajaki Dam. The next 12 months will be very interesting to watch. The fascinating thing for me will be to see how the plan that we developed over the last six months plays out.”

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