I definitely leaned heavily on the Book of Psalms during my 6 years in the Marine Corps (2008-2014) and especially during my deployment to Helmand Province (particularly Sangin area which is, arguably, the most dangerous place in Afghanistan to date) Afghanistan from 2010-2011. I served as a Rifleman (0311).  My attention was turned to Psalms during boot camp. We would sing “Be Not Afraid” and “On Eagle’s Wings” at Catholic Mass on Sundays.  I think they appealed to me so much because of the constant references to fear and danger in physical battle and on a spiritual level.  
  
     In addition, King David, a fierce warrior and servant of God, is credited with many of the Psalms from which the two songs pull from and often saw myself as a warrior for God. Knowing that combat was imminent for me as a Marine Rifleman, I turned to God and His Word for comfort and relied just as much on the comfort of His Word and His promises to us, His servants, as much as I did the training that was burned into my brain by great Marines who were baptized in the fires of combat before me.
     Specifically, Psalms 91, 27, and 23 hit me the hardest.  When one studies these, one can see why they would touch the heart of a grunt who serves and fights for God, Country, and Corps.
 
My favorite verses include:
 
Psalm 91:5-7 “you will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.”
 
Psalm 27:2-3 “When the wicked advance against me to destroy me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.  Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.”
 
     And lastly, Psalm 23:4-5 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.”
 
     It was through these verses that I was constantly reminded that God loves me, protects me, and favors me because I am His servant.  I don’t know how I could have faced the hardships I endured without the constant comfort  and assurance that I had God on my side.  Today, I can tell you that God certainly was on my side and that of my brothers in arms closest to me.  Of the many close calls we had in Afghanistan, one specific event reaffirms my faith in The Lord every day.
     We struck an explosive that was around 80lbs in a lightly armored scout vehicle.  The average lethal charge was said to have been between 40-60lbs but the explosive we hit was well over that.  We all suffered concussions and were temporarily unconscious/incapacitated but all walked away from that.  I have been asked time and again how we managed to walk away unscathed that day and the only explanation that makes sense to me is that He kept me “safe in His dwelling” hid me “in the shelter of His sacred tent” and “set me high upon a rock.”
 
I give all honor and glory to Him today and always.  Thanks be to God!
 
 
Corporal Longo, J.R.
United States Marine Corps