Marine Finds Solace in Combat Baptism
MIANPOSHTEH, Afghanistan -- The bravado of Marines fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan's southern Helmand Province is punctuated by quiet moments of questioning and introspection.
A few Marines ask why they survived when their best friends did not. Others question how they will deal with the stress of combat. Many wonder what people back home know about their actions here.
Spirituality is a source of solace. Lance Cpl. Zachary Ludwig, 20, of Marco Island, Florida, wanted to be baptized before he and thousands of other Marines pushed deep into Taliban-held territory beginning early this month.
But it was not until this week that Chaplain Navy Lt.. Terry A. Roberts arrived at Ludwig's tiny outpost in the southern village of Mianposhteh to perform the ceremony.
Wearing olive green t-shirts and shorts, Roberts, of northern Kentucky, led Ludwig into an irrigation ditch that flowed through the compound of an Afghan home where Ludwig and his platoon are camped out.
After reading a Bible verse, Roberts submersed Ludwig in the water drawn from the Helmand River, later noting that Ludwig was probably one of the few Christians recently baptized in Afghanistan.
"A very close friend told me that when you're in the military you have to have the spiritual side because God will give you guidance in combat," Ludwig said as he stood dripping on the dirt courtyard where he lives with his comrades.
"I wanted to be closer so He could keep me safe" said Ludwig, of 3rd Platoon, Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, which clashes with the Taliban almost daily. The baptism "means more after going through the firefights," he said.
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