Lt. James Wende (right) with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Regiment, keeps a watchful eye on his Marines while on patrol in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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Lt. James Wende, pictured on patrol in Helmand province, says he feels like a senior looking at the freshman class as he concludes his deployment in Afghanistan and hands over the territory to newly arrived Marines. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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Soldiers under fire dash from their Stryker vehicles toward an irrigation canal. It offers some cover but also makes movement across the fields difficult. Graham Smith/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Graham Smith/NPR

Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson approaches Patrol Base Lakhari in southern Helmand province. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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A Marine with with Fox Company of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment carries a metal detector at the front of his patrol in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan near Garmsir. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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Marines from an explosive ordnance disposal team detonate a homemade explosive device, which was discovered near a compound outside of their base. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption David Gilkey/NPR