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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Faces of War

Kathleen Foster

New York

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Faces of War: A Memorial Day Message

May 30, 2010 - 11:19 AM | by: Kathleen Foster

Sgt Chris Appleman

Sgt Chris Appleman wishes he was down the shore this Memorial Day. But instead of going barefoot in the surf at his hometown Bradley Beach, NJ, he’s trudging through the desert sands of Afghanistan in heavy boots.

Despite longing for a long weekend, the true meaning of the Memorial Day holiday certainly isn’t lost on the 27-year-old.  During his previous deployment in Iraq, he saw what happens when a roadside bomb explodes. As his convoy makes its way across the Helmand River Valley, he knows he could see it again at any moment.

“It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when,” Appleman told me as he checked his Light Armored Vehicle’s position on a GPS map. It is his job to radio back to base if an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) is spotted or blows up.

Appleman, whose nickname is “Sauce”, works in one of the Marines’ “Command and Control” Light Armored Vehicles, also known as the LAV-“C-squared”.

“I call it the Cadillac of LAVs. It’s a smoother ride than some of the others.” Only a Cadillac would have air conditioning. Appleman has just two tiny fans trained at him. Kindly, he turned one to face me.

When I asked Appleman if I could write up a story about him, he hesitated. “Would my wife see it?” he asked.  I told him yes. He still wasn’t sure, so I asked him to think about it and get back to me by Sunday.

When Sunday came, he was still hesitant. So, I told him not to worry about it, and started walking away.  As I was going into my tent, he came running up.

“Hey, you know what? @#%$ it.” I turned around to look at him. “You can do it, if you write in a message to my wife. Tell her I love her and I will talk to her soon.”

Appleman’s wife, Alison, is due to give birth the couple’s second son in three weeks.  The baby will be a few months old before he meets his father.

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