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Lance Cpl. Joseph L. Montoya, a rifleman with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, sits down in front of the camera to take some time to read his daughter a book at Patrol Base Koshtay, June 19. Montoya became the father of a baby girl just before departing on this seven-month deployment.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jeremy Fasci

Afghanistan-deployed Marines record messages, book readings from for families

21 Jun 2010 | Lance Cpl. Jeremy Fasci

Letters, phone calls and internet only tell so much of the story for many of the Marines living in the harsh desert conditions in Afghanistan.  Being able to send a video home to their children and other loved ones using the United Through Reading program allows the Marines to put their families at rest about the dangerous situations they may be encountering.

Marines and sailors from Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, are given an opportunity to read a book or just send a message home to the friends and family they are forced to leave behind while they are serving their seven-month deployments in Afghanistan.

“United Through Reading helps bridge the gap between deployment and home,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew S. Lovick, the religious program specialist for 3/1.

Many of the Marines and sailors that deploy with the battalions are husbands and fathers, making it very hard for their families to deal with the separation.  Some of the Marines also have newborn babies, which makes it even harder to leave and commit to the seven months away from home.

“I did it so my daughter back home can a better way to see her father other than just pictures,” said Lance Cpl. Joseph L. Montoya, 20, a rifleman with Lima Company, 3/1, from Austin, Texas.

Even the Marines who have younger children have a hard time explaining why they have to be away for so long.

“It’s much better than a letter because kids don’t always understand what’s going on,” said Lovick, 22, from Fort Smith, Ark.

Helping set their families at ease while being deployed helps the Marines stay more focused on the operations they need to conduct while deployed. 

As Lovick travels around the battalion, he tries to make the program available to any and every Marine who would like to partake in the opportunity.

“It’s harder to get all the gear down to the patrol bases, but when we do it’s a pretty big hit,” said Lovick.

When the recording is complete the Marine receives a disk and envelope they can mail home for free.

The program is just another way for the Marines to get in touch with their families, which is one of the most difficult things to do while they are so far away.

“I volunteered to do it,” said Lovick.  “To be able to provide the guys out here who are sleeping with their head in the mud with a chance to send a video back to wife and kids means a lot to me.”