A U.S. Army Chinook helicopter carrying sling-loaded cargo flies to a forward base in Afghanistan. Chris Hondros/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Chris Hondros/Getty Images

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

itoggle caption David Gilkey/NPR

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

itoggle caption David Gilkey/NPR

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