GIs Trained For Combat, Not Grief

With 30 men dead and many more injured, the families of the Marine battalion nicknamed the "Magnificent Bastards" have gone through their own hell during this war.

"I seen the Marines come round the corner," says Diane Layfield, mother of Lance Cpl. Travis Layfield. "They came up and I was of course just screaming hysterically. It was pretty hard, before they had even said a word to me that my son was gone."

Travis Layfield was killed in an ambush in early April. Marines who survived the attack have written his mother. As CBS News Anchor Dan Rather reports, they show another painful side of this conflict.

One reads: "I'm so sorry. I tried to help him, and I feel that I failed my bro. All I ask for is your forgiveness for not bringing him home with me."

For the Marines in Ramadi, absolving themselves of the guilt of a buddy's death is another hazard of their tour of duty in Iraq. They're trained for combat with the enemy but not for the fight with their emotions.

"There's always some guilt there," says Cpl. Marcus Waechter. "I've been over the scenario a million times in my head about what I could have done different to bring some of the Marines back, but I was just following orders."

"I don't want that young man to ever feel that he is responsible, and I've written him that," says Diane Layfield. "I don't want him to go through life thinking that."

Small makeshift shrines have sprung up across America to remember the "Magnificent Bastards," but the Marines in Ramadi don't have much time to grieve. They still have an enemy to fight.

"The grieving process is not extended," says Lt. Col. Paul Kennedy. "We do not want them to assume a victim mentality, that they are out here for no purpose and who unto us that we are taking all these casualties."

"All Marines are our sons now," says Nancy Walker.

Her son Allan was killed in early April. At a memorial service his life is remembered. Before being sent to Iraq, Allan had one wish, not for himself, but for the men he had trained.

"I want them to come home alive," says Nancy Walker, recounting her son's wish. "I'm going to be the best drill instructor I can be and train them the best I can so they come home alive."

The "Magnificent Bastards" are due to return home in the fall, and they're already planning their next mission: to visit the graves of their brothers in arms.
  • Jaime Holguin

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