Marine visiting family in Craig before re-deployment |
Brian Smith

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Marine visiting family in Craig before re-deployment

Kaleb McCarthy

Kaleb McCarthy is relatively calm for someone heading to Afghanistan soon.

"One foot in front of the other," said McCarthy, a lance corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps. "Wherever I need to go, I will go. I'm just proud to do my service."

McCarthy, 20, who lived in Craig for six years starting in 2000, serves with Fox Company, Second Battalion, in the Fourth Marine Division.

He attended Moffat County High School for a year before moving to Arkansas to finish high school.

He is currently in Craig visiting his family, including stepsister Shannon Russell, stepmother Shirley McCarthy and father Matt McCarthy, before being re-deployed in June.

McCarthy enlisted in the Marine Corp in 2008 and was assigned to serve on the U.S.S. Bonhomme Richard in waters near Yemen and Kuwait in September 2009.

McCarthy is treating the rest of his service in a business-like manner.

"I'm not real nervous, not looking forward to it, either," he said. "I'm just ready to get there, get my job done and get out."

McCarthy said he is able to remain calm heading to an unfamiliar place to serve because of the familiar faces with which he will be surrounded.

McCarthy will reunite with his fellow Fox Company Marines in Afghanistan to serve on ground patrol missions.

Along with trusting his fellow servicemen with his life, McCarthy said he is proud to be a Marine.

"(I) wanted to fight for my country and didn't want to do it with anybody else but the Marine Corps," he said. "I wanted to be a part of a superior fighting force."

McCarthy, a self-described "small town kid," said he decided to enlist to "get out of the small town and see the world."

That the Marine Corps would help pay for college didn't hurt, he added.

After his service, McCarthy hopes to enroll in college and study trades like carpentry and welding, two activities he enjoys.

During his first deployment, McCarthy said he saw limited action aboard the Bonhomme Richard. His company assisted the Navy on patrol for pirates in the area.

Although he was never assigned a mission, he said there were tense moments during his service in the waters heavily populated by pirates.

He also said there was a lot of "down time" on the ship.

While his service kept his mind off family stateside for the most part, McCarthy said there were times he wished he could be back home.

But, McCarthy said he had to bury those thoughts and feelings so they didn't "eat you up on the inside" while serving.

He said he longed for a home-cooked meal more than anything else, more specifically, a plate of Shirley's venison and mashed potatoes.

And, he got that meal when he returned home Thursday.

Behind McCarthy's pride in his service and calm demeanor about his re-deployment is Russell, who said she worries about him "every last second that he is not home."

"I hate it," Russell said when asked how she feels about having to let her "little brother" leave again.

"He kind of shrugs it off as no big deal, but it is a big deal," she said.

Russell worries about the worst happening to him.

"It is great if he can go over there and get the experience and see the world," Russell said. "That's wonderful, but send my brother home alive and well. Don't send him home in a box or injured."

With all of her worries, however, Russell and the rest of McCarthy's family support his choice to serve his country.

McCarthy said he wouldn't have been able to stomach the rest of his four-year tour of duty without the strong support of his family.

But, his family wasn't always in favor of the idea.

Russell said she never thought McCarthy would go into the Marine Corps, and even protested the decision early on.

"He is not the type of kid that likes to be told what to do," she said. "He never was … he wanted to do it his way. You can definitely tell he listens a little better these days."

Listening isn't the only thing that has changed with McCarthy, Russell said.

"He has grown in ways I can't even tell you," she said. "He has matured. He is not that goofy little boy he used to be. He is older, wiser and way more responsible.

"Now, he is a yes sir, no ma'am kind of boy."