Two local men serving country in Afghanistan war

By Dwight Collins | Jul 22, 2013
Courtesy of: Stephen Widdecomb Marine Lance Cpl. Stephen Widdecomb is a member of the 3rd Battalion of the 4th Marine Division serving in the Helman Province. He is a 2011 graduate of Camden Hills Regional High School.

Afghanistan — In a country most have only seen on the evening news, two local service members are getting a first hand view of the war in Afghanistan.

Helping protect freedoms that in this country are sometimes taken for granted, 1st Lt. Eric Pendleton of Rockport and Marine Lance Cpl. Stephen Widdecomb of Camden serve different purposes in their roles in the war, but both serve with pride and distinction none the less.

In his second tour, Pendleton, a 2000 graduate of Camden Hills Regional High School, is a member of the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment providing logistical and tactical support to Special Operation Forces operating in southeast Afghanistan.

Widdecomb, who graduated in 2011 from Camden Hills, is a machine gunner in his first tour, is a member of the 3rd Battalion of the 4th Marine Division serving in the Helman Province.

“Our mission is to assist Special Operations Forces in conducting Village Stability Operations,” Pendleton said. ”Long story short, the goal is to help the smaller outlying areas establish their own security and infrastructure while being supported by district and provincial level government, thus, tying in all echelons of leadership from national down to village level.”

He added, “A good majority of the time was spent training Afghan local police forces, which provided the stepping-stone into continued development projects that helped expand education for kids and supported stimulus of the local economy. At the same time, we also mentored and assisted the local government officials in providing the best possible support to their districts and villages.”

A lot of what Pendleton is responsible for is provide planning support to operations, as well as a six-month stint as a Battle Captain. At his level of command, they were able to ensure the teams had all the possible support, equipment, food, etc. to be able to conduct their missions.

Working with the local population certainly has its times of tension but according to Pendleton, most locals are receptive to assistance.

“For the most part, the locals generally pay no mind to us, since most of the focus has been on Afghan lead programs and security,” he said. “This is not to say there aren’t interactions going on with the local populace, but we have become a common sight here. There are, however, some remote parts of Afghanistan who believe we are the remainder of the Russian Army who came here 20 years ago.”

Widdecomb, son of Stephen E. Widdecomb of Camden and Stacie L. Woodman of West Palm Beach, Fla., has been in Afghanistan since late winter/early spring 2013. He said that his parents' support, along with the support of other family members and friends has made his first deployment easier.

The life of a marine on the ground in country is one of constant guard and keeping their eyes open for any possible threat. Widdecomb said he feels for himself, and the majority of his fellow marines, satisfaction comes in the form blood, sweat and tears shed in helping bring changes in the world and supporting the United States military.

“We have been out here grinding away, it’s hard work but it’s for the right reasons,” Widdecomb said. “It’s all worth it when you look at the big picture and know your contributing to changing the world.”

“It’s a brother hood like no other,” he continued. “Any one of us would put our lives on the line at the drop of a hat for each other. We live, sleep, eat and work together spending all day and everyday with one another.”

Widdecomb added, “You have to know you can depend on each other. We are all that each other has out here. We are our family; we defend each other, as I would any one of my relatives.”

Pendleton’s tour ended and he returned to the United States July 17. Widdecomb is still serving in Afghanistan.

1st Lt. Eric Pendleton is a member of the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment providing logistical and tactical support to Special Operation Forces operating in southeast Afghanistan. (Courtesy of: 1st Lt. Eric Pendleton)
The State of Maine flag given to 1st Lt. Eric Pendleton flies over Camp Eggleston in Afghanistan. (Courtesy of: 1st Lt. Eric Pendleton)
Comments (6)
Posted by: Jeff Sukeforth | Jul 23, 2013 19:03

Thank you both for your service! As for the rest of please keep all of our service men and women in your thoughts and prayers every day.



Posted by: Judith Clossey | Jul 23, 2013 13:48

Knowing these two young men personally makes this more than a special article to me.Several more of our young people have given their best for all of us-as  well.  My heart goes to the families reading this-knowing their loved ones gave their lives-as did my Dad.  Judy Clossey, Retired School Nurse



Posted by: Nina Reed | Jul 23, 2013 09:31

wonderful article covering two very brave young men.  I have known many from just the midcoast area alone that have served abroad during this conflict, and it would be great to see a greater coverage of all of those young men and women.

 



Posted by: William Charles Ward | Jul 22, 2013 23:02

Thank you to both of these young men for their service to our country.

 



Posted by: Donald Spear | Jul 22, 2013 21:47

Great article, I salute you 2 for serving! 



Posted by: Sandy Cameron | Jul 22, 2013 18:08

Nice article.  It's a poignant reminder that there are families with loved ones still serving in harms way that live amongst us in our little vacation community.  Thanks guys, for your service and sacrifice.



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Dwight Collins
Dwight Collins is a reporter/photographer for The Camden Herald.
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