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December 26, 2010

The Leatherneck Grinch who jammed for Christmas


(The Grinch plays air guitar during, "Camp Leatherneck's Got Talent," a talent show hosted on Christmas Eve at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. Photo: Cpl. Megan Sindelar)

It has been an especially tough and deadly year in Afghanistan.

Tens of thousands of new U.S. forces arrived in 2010 to take part in a military surge. 2010 has been the most deadly year of the nine-year-old war. Nearly 500 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan this year. Of the 700 U.S.-led coalition fighters killed in Afghanistan, nearly 60 percent were killed by IEDs.

Of the 9,200 U.S. service members wounded in Afghanistan since 2001, nearly half were injured this year.

About 100,000 members of the U.S. military spent Christmas in Afghanistan, where Americans at remote bases tried their best to bring a touch of home to the war.

Camp Leatherneck, the main U.S. Marine Corps base in southern Afghanistan, was the site of "Camp Leatherneck's Got Talent," a talent show featuring an air guitar playing Grinch MC, some "Macarena" dancing, and a healthy dose of guitar crooners.

NPR's Quil Lawrence spent Christmas Eve at Bagram Air Field where medics worked to get wounded troops back home for Christmas.

NPR put together an emotional montage of stories from wounded U.S. service members spending Christmas in a hospital bed.

In the piece, USMC Sgt. Zachary Scoskie, who sustained minor injuries when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb, sends holiday greetings to the folks back home.

"Just Merry Christmas and happy holidays," says Scoskie. "And just make sure that people, you know, just kind of realize that there's still a lot of us over here."


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Checkpoint Kabul is written by McClatchy journalists covering Afghanistan and south Asia.

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