Giving thanks in Afghanistan

Published 9:52 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2011

U.S. Marine Corps Col. Mike Lawrence works in Afghanistan. He and fellow Suffolk resident Master Sgt. Mike Noble, below, both are currently serving at Camp Leatherneck and will be away from their families this holiday season.

As most folks sit down with their families around tables full of food today, two Suffolk men will be finishing their day in a distant part of the world, far away from home and family.

U.S. Marine Corps Col. Mike Lawrence and Master Sgt. Mike Noble both are currently serving at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan.


“This is not the first time I’ve been away from home for Thanksgiving,” Noble said. “Timing doesn’t necessarily revolve around holidays, and we have schedules to keep.”

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Noble has been in the Marines for 22 years, Lawrence, 27. For Lawrence, this is the third Thanksgiving on deployment.

“I miss my family, but I know they are well, and that’s a comfort,” Lawrence wrote in an email.

The two men and the rest of the Marines at Camp Leatherneck will gather today for a feast, just like their families back home. But then, unlike for most people in the States, it’s back to work.

“We’ll have a huge dinner tomorrow here at Camp Leatherneck with all the traditional fixings,” Lawrence wrote.

But, Noble added, the work in Afghanistan never stops.

“We’re going to walk it off afterwards and know that the next day is another day,” Noble said. “Right after we get done eating, we’re going to resume normal operations. The aircraft will still fly, no matter what they’re serving for dinner.”

Noble has been on several deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and Japan during his time in the Marines. He joined, he said, because his father was a Marine, and he was looking for a challenge.

He now is the senior enlisted adviser to the commanding officer for the headquarters squadron at Camp Leatherneck. He advises on legal and personnel matters.

“I think we’re going to eat well,” he said. “They are going to have turkey and ham and do the best they can to make it a good Thanksgiving for us.”

When he gets back home in the February time frame, Noble said, he’s looking forward to seeing his wife, taking his dog to Bennett’s Creek Park and playing golf.

Lawrence wrote that he joined the Marines 27 years ago because he wanted to serve his country, “and I liked the idea of belonging to an elite team,” he said.

This is his second tour in the Middle East. His family lives in North Suffolk and his son, Matthew, goes to Nansemond-Suffolk Academy.