Death toll for 3/5 in Sangin reaches 19 Marines


Sgt. Freddie Cavasos and Lance Cpl. Andreas Padilla, of India Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, First Marines, take positions during a Nov. 5 patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)

Maj. Gen. Richard Mills held a press conference from Afghanistan with reporters at the Pentagon yesterday, generating a flurry of headlines about the war.

Many of the stories focused on the general’s bold claim that the battle in Marjah district is “essentially over.” Most engagements with the enemy are now on the outskirts of the district, from which the Taliban still launches attacks from neighboring deserts, Mills said.

“He still comes out of his hole every once in a while from the desert, comes into town and takes the odd shot at us, but in effect, he has lost the ability to impact much on the people of Marjah,” the general said. “His last technique was to try a strategy of murder and intimidation. And what he was met with was local nationals who organized themselves into neighborhood watches and who rejected both the violence he brought with him and the demands for money that he arrived with.”

I’ll go out on a limb and say that some of the Marines engaged in combat in and around Marjah — particularly 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, and 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. — may disagree with the assessment that the battle of Marjah is essentially over. Still, the progress is encouraging.

The picture in Sangin isn’t as cheerful. With two more deaths Monday, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., has lost 19 service members since deploying in late September.

Mills said Tuesday that the forces he has in and around Sangin “right now are adequate for the task,” but left open the possibility that more Marines could deploy there later.

The Corps is well aware of the toll this deployment has taken on 3/5 and its families. Commandant Gen. Jim Amos and his wife, Bonnie, met with the battalion’s families Tuesday at Camp Pendleton, his spokesman, Maj. Joseph Plenzler. The meeting ran long enough that a planned meeting on base with 11th Marines was cancelled, Plenzler told my colleague, Gidget Fuentes.

Families and Marines who have deployed to Sangin have weighed in previously o9n Battle Rattle in this blog entry. That feedback will continue to be welcomed here.


About Author

I'm a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.


  1. 3/5 Marine Mom on

    Thank you Mr. Lamothe for continuing to cover news on the 3/5. Our son is deployed with 3/5 Weapons Company, we pray daily for our son, all of the 3/5 and their families. Condolence letters can be sent to the 3/5 Family Readiness Officer for forwarding on to the families.

  2. Our thoughts and prayers continue for the family, friends and our young men and women that are serving our country with great pride and dedication for a safe and speedy return home. Our sorrow for the families of our fallen and wounded who have made these ultimate sacrifices.
    For Gunny D and the men of the 3/5 our gratitude and support for you grows by the minute. SEMPER FI my Brothers.

  3. Thank you for double checking. A lot of articles that have come out today say we’ve lost 18 Marines. I just want everyone’s sacrifice to be recognized.

    As a Darkhorse spouse, thank you for writing about our Marines & keeping the good work they do in the news. Our boys are making history right now & the famlies back home are all so proud of them.

  4. Rosalee Chilcoat on

    My deepest sympathy goes out to the families of the Fallen 19 HERO’S from 3/5. Although I do not know anyone with the 3/5, I will NEVER forget the 19 who gave their life for MY freedom. I am also a Marine and Air Force mom. My prayers are with all of the families and our troops. Rose

  5. Thank you Mr. Lamothe for taking action on extra help for the 3/5. They are strong and powerful Marines. So many fallen, prayers are being spoken every minute. The families are extremely worried and stressed. The families our Marine need more support through out the USA.

  6. My thoughts and prayers are with my brothers and sisters in harms way. They are also with the familys that are here on the homefront we are with you and would like to send our love and support. semper fi

  7. 3/5's favorite px girl (Jamie) on

    When I worked at the exchange where the guys are stationed at, I got to know several of them pretty well. It is heartbreaking to know that a few of my former “regulars”, are no longer living. It seems like yesterday it was September saying “see ya later” to these ready for action Marines. I miss them all terribly and I had a bond with each of them as being a friendly face they saw everyday. The Marines and their families are constantly in my prayers everyday. Come home soon guys! Semper Fidelis 3/5!

  8. As a 3/5 Spouse, I think about these Marines DAILY. My heart grows heavier each time the DoD releases yet ANOTHER name. God Bless them all for giving the Ultimate Sacrifice. I pray for you and your Familes.

    To my husband: Miss you lots, love you even more. We’ll see you soon…

  9. Karen Gonzales on

    Im a 3/5 Kilo Co. Wife! My love & prayers go to the families of my husbands brothers!! Great marines like this are never forgotten!! My love to u all!! Thanks for the support!! OoRah!! Get Some!!!

    To Cpl. Gonzo: I love u so much & miss u more than anything!! c u in april babi…

  10. Christine Cerra on

    As a 3/5 WPNS Co sister, I want to first and foremost say, my deepest condolences to the families of our fallen 19. They will not be forgotten. This is going to be a tough Xmas for the 3/5 families and for our men over there. Please keep them in prayers and talk about how wonderful they are every day. My brother Brandon is the best brother and friend anyone could ask for. Semper Fi and God bless

  11. 3/5 H&S Co. girlfriend here, missing my marine, praying for the boys everyday!!! my heart goes out to the fallen, some of them I was lucky to get the chance to hangout with before they left <3

    to CPL. Ferry: I love you and miss you so much xoxoxo!! be safe honey, I cant wait till you come home so we can tie the knot<3

  12. My nephew is also deployed with 3/5 Weapons and everyday it’s a battle for us as a family to stay strong. I pray daily for my nephew, 3/5, every service man & woman out there and there familes. My condolence’s to the families who have had there children make the ulitimate sacrafice. May god bless you all.

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  14. i am a wife of a Mp attached with 3/5 and i know how much this has taken a toll. i am very proud of everything those men gave up for me and my family.. may they all find peace.

    to gal… your my rock as well as the love of my life. stay strong and safe we all miss you

  15. nicholas shikany on

    My brother is currently deployed with 3/5. My prayers go out every day with them. I love you marines. I cant wait to be out there with you. Get some boys!

  16. I’m the mom of a 3/5 EOD tech. Like everyone else, I pray 24/7 for the safety of all the Marines in Sangin at this time. I know you are equal to the challenge. Take care till we see you again.

  17. Griff - Marine Dad on

    3/5 Dark Horse Marines…. -GET SOME- Son … Proud of you and ALL 3/5 MARINES in the Sangin Valley.

    May our Good Lord watch over them and protect them.
    May He let His divine light, His presence, shine about them,
    and may His Guardian Spirits be ever watchful and vigilant in protecting them.
    May St Michael the Archangel personally be at their side and return them to us safely.
    We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer. Amen.

    Received from :
    Father John Victoria to 3/5 Marines 12/09/2010
    Scranton Pa

  18. Where is the mainstream media coverage on this unit? I have a brother with the 3/5 and a good friend with the 1/8 and I have seen NOTHING on the news, of the hard, bloody fights these two units are going through. Sangin is one of the most important fights of the current Afghan war. Every article I see about the 3/5 is from a foreign news agency! Does the non-military families of the US really not care about what our guys are doing over there!?

  19. My son with the 3/5 Weapons Co – You and your men are in my prayers everyday. The sacrafice of the battallion has been great but the marines will never be forgotten. Stay safe and look forward to seeing on your return. God Bless.

  20. My son safely returned from Marjah last August and expects to return again in 2011. My heart goes out to the men and families of 3/5 as well as all other service people and their families. Stay safe, stay strong. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Thank you for your MANY sacrafices.

  21. Has CPL Justin McLoud been put in for any type of award? I am aware of his extensive injuries acquired on or around 12/10. He is a true hero to give up both legs for our freedom.

  22. ~I have helped to train and guide two of the Corpsmen with 3/5 and I know that they are ready, however that doesn’t mean that I cant pray for a little extra help each night, God bless you all..Marines… shoot straight and Docs…. Corpsmen Up! emh

  23. I am the wife of Cpl McLoud. We have not talked to anyone about any awards other than the Purple Heart, but it has only been a week since his injury. He is doing well and in high spirits, even when the pain he suffers brings me to tears. A fast recovery is expected!

  24. Im a 3/5 Kilo Co. Wife! My love & prayers go to the families of my husbands brothers!!! Great marines like them are never forgotten!!! And I’m greatful that there are people out there like these men and women!!! My love goes out to you all!! Thanks for the support!!! OoRah!!! Semper Fi!!!

    Cpl Cook I love you so much baby! And I’m so proud of you!!! Keep your head up baby and know that there are tons of prayers being said daily for you and 3/5! See you in April my love!!!

  25. USMCsis! We are a non-military family who has “adopted” a young man in Kilo Co. YES!! We care very much about what you all are sacrificing. Since joining “Tell Them Thanks” and sending our 4th package and letters in less than 3 weeks, I feel like this young man is my family. Every day I pray for him and the rest of the 3/5 and wonder about all of you missing your brothers/husbands/sons. I have told my entire family about the 3/5 and going on no information but an address, have googled, read and researched everything I can about our wonderful men. Please don’t feel like you are lost to the world, because, at least in my family, you aren’t!

  26. God Bless You My Son Lcp-Matthew Luera from Las Cruces, New Mexico! All Of Us Are Keeping You And Your Battalion In Our Prayers…Dad.

  27. Rod and Janet Hoffman on

    We have a son serving as radio communications with Lima Company, Sangin, Helmond Providence. Just want all of the 3/5 to come home safe. We thank you for our freedom here, you all have sacrificed and we are so very grateful for all of your unselfish service to keep us safe. Everyone is very proud of you. We are looking forward to meeting our son’s buddies from Lima and from H&S. You know who you are.

  28. To all the FET Marines attached to the 3/5. “Mission accomplished” happens in small steps. You go where no man can. Stay viligant. Stay safe. Praying for your safe return.

  29. Hey 3/5 brothers I was with 3/7 in Sangin. Specifically I was with Kilo Co in the PB a click or so from the FOB. If one of you guys that is actually out there fighting the good fight could email me, I have a few private questions to ask. email is … continue to do good things gents, not a day goes by that I dont think of you all out there.

  30. Hang in there 3/5, your 1/5 brothers will be there soon. My son is in the 1/5 doing his deployment training as I write. I realize it was a tough battle for all of you since taking over the British occupincy in Sangin. Look foreward to all of you returning soon. Keep kick’n ass and fight the good fight. God bless our Marines!!!

  31. James L. Miller on

    Please send me their fpo/apo so i can send some moto-mail. Someone in 3/5 in the shit.

    Thank you,

    James L. Miller

  32. Cpl Harry Skinters RM on

    Having read this thread I am a little disappointed that VERY few references have been made to the unit who handed over Sangin to the USMC in the summer. Perhaps this overlooked perspective is indicative of US attitudes towards other nation’s inadequacies and a perceived American invincibility on the battlefield. My unit (40 Commando Royal Marines) spent five weeks attempting to pass on the knowledge; we had paid for in blood and sweat. The ordinary grunts were grateful to receive this advice, however to my surprise lower and mid level commanders were in my opinion naive and made a short sighted assumption that the Brits were “not up to the task”
    I have served in Sangin twice and the battle picture had changed in the 18 month period between those two tours of duty. The insurgent has an ability to adapt quickly to challengers he is faced with. In comparison our military machine is cumbersome and new tactics and best practice often takes a long time to become ingrained.
    As intimated the unit I was serving with handed over to our American cousins (USMC) during the summer. A lot of time was spent teaching and advising on the human terrain and problems we were having. To no avail, the Americans came in with a confident attitude that we thought was healthy but advised them to take things steady until they knew the enemy and ground. One USMC commander told me that “we will do things differently and get into their (insurgent) faces”
    In my view the UK always had a “just enough will do” approach and we on the ground knew we needed more troops to severely restrict enemy efforts.
    We had commanders back at our main operating base (Camp Bastion) that had never even set foot in Sangin, and it showed in the support the boys received, with far too much bureaucracy in the S4 chain (supply).
    However, by far the worse aspect of my last tour was that we (British) were following American orders; we just went about it differently. We were effective and spilt a lot of blood in being so. Our DNA drives us towards battle and we were ordered to become peacekeepers. The commonly used platitude of “courageous restraint” was coined (no doubt by General McChrystal).The wrong troops for the wrong task. When the USMC arrived, this American dictum was changed to suit the way they do business (a luxury we were never afforded by our commanders, who, it seemed, were yes men to their American masters). We lost a lot of good men and I personally lost two good friends. Was it worth it? Only time will tell. I can only wish the Americans luck and hope it is worth it for them. Never forget, they were not our twin towers that were destroyed, however we will stand by your side, as you stood with us in 1941 (after Pearl Harbour).

  33. Complacency kills and shit bags from 3/5 proved it…shouldn’t have been walking down the 611 holding your weapons like babies, not covering your sectors and just being all around jackasses… Get over it… You win some you lose some and thanx to a 3/5 shitbag I lost a good friend of mine in 3/7 so next time train better before you step out in real mans country… Eat a dick 3/5.. Sincerely 3/7 motivater…

  34. 3/7 motivator: Real easy to talk shit on a computer. Since you opened the door I’ll shut it for you.

    1. We never took contact on the 611 therefor none of our KIA’s took place there, voiding what you just said.

    2. All of our KIA were doing heroic shit, while your sitting here bad mouthing another grunt unit. (good on you)

    3. 3/7 was in Sangin for 2 weeks and didn’t do a F—- thing there. Yet you all act like “IT WAS CLEAR WHEN WE WERE THERE” – well clearly not. The fishtank (which you supposively cleared) was IED’ed to shit, and we took contact on a daily basis in every AO.

    *Edited due to vulgarity and personal attacks. — the Editor

  35. Hey guys,

    First off wanted to thank 3/5, 40 Commando & all those who have served for their efforts in Sangin & Afghanistan as a whole. I’ll admit I’m a civie so tell me to FO if you want but I closely follow Afghan especially in fight in Helmand, with my cousin serving there in the Bristish ranks back in 2007.

    I disagree with Cpl Skinters from 40 commando, agreed that not enough men/wrong troops for the wrong fight is true. Also yes the fact that how our commanders acted meant we couldn’t be effective across the whole AO, but the yanks came in seeing this and switched it up. In my opinion our failings (British & from seeing the above maybe 3/7 a bit too) meant 3/5 had a hell of a job on their hands. The summer of 2012 was nothing like it was in 2010. Given it’s location & history I think that says something, I’d never say its worth the massive sacrifice (only because I’m not personally associated with it) but a job well done.

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