COMBAT OUTPOST TAGHAZ, Afghanistan – A Marine from a town most commonly associated with elves, Santa Claus, reindeer and snow has heard all the jokes since he joined the Marine Corps. He is from a town with candy cane themed street lights, a Santa Claus Lane and where thousands of childrens’ letters arrive for Santa. Now with the holiday season upon the Marines, the North Pole, Alaska, native is surrounded by sand and dirt, a long way from the snow and ice he is familiar with this time of year.
When Lance Cpl. Kody Broderick, machine gunner with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, was in third grade, he moved to North Pole, a small town near Fairbanks, Alaska.
“When I tell people I am from North Pole, they think I’m joking,” said Broderick. “I usually have to show them my driver’s license to get them to believe me.”
Once the Marines find out where Broderick is from they cannot help but partake in some good natured jokes.
Lance Cpl. Carl Adams, mortarman with the company, said he asks Broderick questions about living in the North Pole and working with elves.
Broderick takes the humor in stride. He understands there is no ill will behind the Marines’ comments.
“They’ll ask me if my dad is Santa Claus, things like that,” said Broderick.
Now he finds himself thousands of miles from home and in a country that reaches temperatures of more than 130 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months.
“I’m really glad I am not out here during the summer,” said Broderick.
Although he is not currently deployed during the summer months, he has had to adjust to everything from the temperature to the sunrise and sunset.
“During the winters in North Pole, we get about 18 hours of darkness. During the summer, the sun almost never goes below the horizon,” said Broderick. “Now at 7 a.m., the sun is rising and by 7 p.m. it has set.”
Broderick works hard as a Marine. He chose to join because he wanted to fight for his country.
“I remember it was 2001 when we moved to North Pole,” said Broderick. “I remember because of the attack on Sept. 11, 2001, and ever since then, I thought I’d join the military when I got older. I wanted to be in the Marine Corps and fight in this war before it was over.”
Weapons Company works as the quick reaction force and explosive ordnance disposal for the Afghan National Security Forces in their area. The ANSF are in the lead with the Marines supporting their efforts. The Marines are no longer clearing areas and going house to house, but that does not stop Broderick from working hard.
“I’ve known him for about two and a half months,” said Adams. “He tries to help out and make the best out of everything. He’s a good Marine.”
Broderick stands post almost daily, helping keep the area secure. Back home the snow has already started, with temperatures reaching negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit. He has traded the snow for sand and his small town of mom and pop shops for an outpost of tents and HESCO barriers. For Broderick, it is a long way from home, but the fulfillment of a dream.