September 10th, 2009
11:15 PM ET

One common goal

Program Note: Tune in tonight for Anderson's live coverage from Afghanistan. He is joined by Peter Bergen, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Michael Ware. AC360° tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/10/art.ac.afghan.marines.jpg caption="U.S. Marines listen to a brief before heading out on patrol in Helmand Province."]

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

"What’s your blood type?"

It’s the question you’re asked around here a lot. Before getting into a helicopter, before going out on patrol with a new unit. "What's your blood type?"

The Marines have their blood type sewn into the patches they wear along with their name and rank. Many write it in black marker on the band of their goggles. I know some guys who even have it tattooed on their chests, just above their heart. Blood types are displayed prominently in case something goes wrong – in case they get hurt. Doctors can treat them faster in an emergency if they know what blood type to use. At first, the question surprised me, now it’s just a routine part of the introduction.

When you’re an embedded reporter moving from base to base, you meet new Marines all the time. At first some are wary of reporters, but go out on a foot patrol with a platoon for several hours in a combat zone, and very quickly the wariness breaks down, especially when they see you don’t have an agenda.

"My wife emailed me," one Marine said to me this morning. "She said you're reporting the real stuff we're doing here. Thanks." He made my day.

I know it sounds corny, but it's impossible not to want to do right by these Marines. To get the story right. They are separated from their families, far from home, living in dust and dirt, putting their lives on the line every day.
They are doing it for their families, for each other, and for us, but they are also doing it for Afghans, many of whom are still on the fence about their presence here.

Most people in the U.S. probably think this war is all about hunting down the Taliban. It's not. The mission is far more complex. The Marines’ goal in Helmand province is to protect the population.

This is not a war about territory, or enemy body count, it is about protecting people, building confidence, convincing Afghans to choose sides. This is not the traditional role played by Marines, but they are adapting, and despite frustrations, and growing losses and difficulties, the Marines I'm with express a real sense of accomplishment and deep pride.

Many Marines here have already done multiple tours in Iraq. For others, this is their first deployment. I’ve met career Marines here, and some young men who plan to get out of the Corps as soon as their enlistment is up. Some love the mission, others can’t wait to get out.

The Marines here are as varied as the American population. What sets them apart, however, what they have in common, is their dedication. Despite their differences as individuals, they are willing to sacrifice for a common goal. It is humbling to witness. It is, I think, important to remember.

Filed under: Afghanistan • Anderson Cooper
soundoff (348 Responses)
  1. christinelgerman

    anderson , thanks so much for your reporting on the marines my son matt german is right there i support all of them he is my only child he is out to do a great job for our country. as all our miltary thank God for people like them. i pray that all stay safe. again thanks it has been an eye opener

    September 10, 2009 at 7:37 pm |
  2. Cheryl - TN

    Thank you for the coverage. I lost my 22 year old Marine nephew in Afghanistan on July 30, 2009. He was a hero; he gave his life for you and me. Please pray for our troops every day.

    September 10, 2009 at 7:32 pm |
  3. Karen Barrett

    Anderson - you are this generation's cronkhite - we trust you to tell us the truth, which is increasingly rare in journalism these days. Thank you for your work.

    September 10, 2009 at 7:31 pm |
  4. Jonathan

    hey guys my dad is in
    Afghanistan .

    I want to become a Marine when i grow up:)

    (i am 12)

    September 10, 2009 at 7:04 pm |
  5. Carol B.

    I'm not sure where CNN stands on any blogging IMPOSTER'S lists, however, it's great you're telling the stories of soldiers on the frontlines there. They are truly brave and dedicated. Hopefully, they will be able to return home to their families soon. This was a news story triage that is long overdue.

    -Best wishes to all-

    September 10, 2009 at 6:50 pm |
  6. Stacy

    Anderson, thank you so much for this coverage this week. I don't know anyone serving overseas, but I think about them a lot. I'm disheartened by how little attention the troops seem to get from the media these days. There's not much public interest in the wars, I know. But I figure that making an effort to pay attention is the absolute least I can do for them.

    So, if I could ask a favor of you. After you come home, and the next political controversy takes over, and the next co-ed goes missing, and the next celebrity scandal titillates the nation, can you please not forget the wars and our troops? I know you can't always be in the field, but CNN has a bureau in Afghanistan and regular reports from there would be much appreciated. Thanks again for caring.

    September 10, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  7. Marilyn Loewy

    Why is CNN not covering the explosive story that broke today about ACORN? I can't believe only Fox and the Wall Street Journal are covering it. I would like to know why the rest of the media including CNN is NOT covering it. Don't you think it newsworthy that my tax dollars are given to an organization that is caught on tape being corrupt and telling people to lie and okaying prostitution and bringing illegal young girls into this country? I WOULD APPRECIATE A RESPONSE.

    September 10, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  8. Marian

    I think we need to supply our Marines with better conditions to exist with. This country spends money on everything else, i.e. planes we no longer use in combat, etc. We could upgrade these living conditions if the will was there to do it. We send them off to a hostile environment and them make them live in these deplorable conditions. This is shameful to say the least!

    September 10, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  9. Lori - IL


    Thank you for a great post and a great week of coverage. And thank you for reminding us, as I, too, think that it is important to remember, "Despite their differences as individuals, they are willing to sacrifice for a common goal." Perhaps we could all take a lesson...

    Stay safe and Godspeed.

    September 10, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  10. Jesus

    Thank you for reporting and showing us the real deal. My son is over there as a Navy Corpman, I need to let all of our Marines and Sailors that my family and friends are praying for your safe return. Can't be prouder of all the young and brave men and women who are in constant harms way. Please guys listen to your tummyknockers when in danger. Mr. Cooper thanks a bunch for doing what you do for your crew who's going through it with you. Thanks CNN for the web site dedicated to the fallen, and again thank you Cooper!

    September 10, 2009 at 6:05 pm |
  11. Kate

    Why isn't CNN covering the breaking news about the corrupt goings on with Acorn in Carolina?? Two Acorn employees giving advice to a man and a woman who are going to set up a sex house and import girls younger than 16 to work as prostitutes? Acorn employees advising how to get out of paying taxes and how to claim the young girls as dependents on taxes.

    Why aren't you guys covinger this story?

    September 10, 2009 at 6:03 pm |
  12. Jan

    Thank you Anderson and God bless and keep all of our military fighting in the dust and the chaos

    September 10, 2009 at 6:02 pm |
  13. Christina, Windber

    Hey anderson

    I know we're supposed to be patriotic and all that, but I don't think I could do what you as well as all the soldiers are doing. what they are doing is a huge sacrifice and I don't think we pay enough attention to their dedication and hard work.

    When the conflict first started in Afghanistan we heard about women being beaten if they went out in public unescorted by their husbands or some other male family member or their faces weren't covered. Is it still like that or have things improved. It would a terrible thing if the Taliban gained control and they had to go back to the old ways.

    Stay safe over there. Your opening paragraph sent a chill down my spine. I hope you'll tweat or blog when you land back on american soil so we know you arrived safe and sound.

    God Bless you, your crew and all those fighting over there.

    September 10, 2009 at 5:54 pm |
  14. Kathy


    You are the best.

    As always, I know that you can make them listen. Your compassion and insight is enlightening. The little guy can always count on you to be their voice.

    Keep up the good work and most of all stay safe out there. I will pray for your safe return.


    September 10, 2009 at 5:53 pm |
  15. Hackleman

    How is it possible that you are not covering any of the Acorn corruption?

    September 10, 2009 at 5:43 pm |
  16. D.L. Quick II

    Hi Anderson,

    The coverage you are giving to us and by us i mean the military families of our great country is unmatched by anyone. The fact that you are willing to take the risks you are taking to provide this coverage says so much about your moral fortitude. Thank you does not begin to express the feelings my wife and i have toward you. We spend our days, like the rest of the 1/5 families hoping for a phone call from our loved ones which often does not come for a month or more. Now because of you and your brave crew we can actually hope to get a glimpse of our brave Marines. We will spend the rest of the week hoping you get to Geronimo company and perhaps give us a shot of our son, but if not we know you have given many families of 1/5 the opportunity to see their Marines. Take great care and be safe! Keep up the good work. Semper Fi 1/5 We love you Cpl Quick!

    September 10, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
  17. Barbara-Dalton

    My home has enjoyed your reports all week, doing a great job.
    Let me add that all who can possibly give blood do so, you can give
    every 6-8 weeks. It is painless and it the process goes pretty fast.
    I don't know if our giving blood helps our men in harm's way but rest
    assured it will help save someone's life.

    Thanks again for the good job you are and your team are doing,

    September 10, 2009 at 5:40 pm |
  18. susan

    Is ther a reason that CNN is not reporting on the latest ACORN scandal? I use to think you guys were reporters.
    You also call people who do not universal healthcare mobs..
    Well I got news for you we are just average people.
    I will never watch you channel again

    September 10, 2009 at 5:37 pm |
  19. Frank

    Sorry if I posted this on the wrong Blog Im new at this and thought this was Anderson Coopers Blog .
    To our Soldiers serving and protecting us everywhere, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. Stay Safe

    September 10, 2009 at 5:33 pm |
  20. Frank

    How come CNN is not reporting about the ACORN group getting federal tax dollars to help people cheat our government out of taxes and instructing them on how to report illegal child prostitution as a legit business. This is unbelievable stuff. How can you ignore it Come on COOP !

    September 10, 2009 at 5:30 pm |
  21. Lisa L

    Hello Anderson,

    Thank you for your report, especially giving them a chance to talk to their loved ones.

    I hope the injured child will make a speedy recovery.


    Lisa L
    Sydney, Australia

    September 10, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  22. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Anderson, what do they think about the growing lack of support for their mission among the American people? Does it impact their morale? Do they feel that most Americans don't get it?

    September 10, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  23. Ross

    Why is CNN becoming more and more like Fox news?????

    September 10, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  24. Sue Mitchell

    Thanks to you Anderson and to all the troops who represent us over there. Your reporting of their story was fabulous. Keep up the good work.

    September 10, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  25. PJ Mexner

    I send a BIG thank you and many prayers to all the Marines and their families...OORAH! My son is still in training, Helicopter Crew Chief, but I follow the news (especially Anderson). My heart breaks when I hear of casualties but I remind myself that we must contribute to the well being of all not just ourselves and this means jumping in the middle of the fire more often than not. Keep up the good work and again, Thank You all!

    Proud Marine Mom

    September 10, 2009 at 5:04 pm |
  26. Donna

    Hi Kevin Burke,

    I'm very proud of you. I'm sure your family and friends misses you very much. If you need anything, please let us know.

    September 10, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  27. Rita Fowler

    Finally. Someone in the media "gets it" and got it right. As the mother of two Marines and coming from a family of a long history of service in all branches dating as far back as World War II, I applaud your insight and commitment to these Marines to "get it right."

    September 10, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  28. bill

    Good job Anderson. Keep the focus on the guys who sacrifice and their families.
    Way to go Marines. Be safe.

    September 10, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  29. lee, new mexico

    Semper Fi: 1972 to 1994

    September 10, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  30. Ava Torres

    Thank you so much on a informative show. My son deployed to Kandahar Afghanistan back in August. It is nice to know that someone cares enough to show what is going on in Afghanistan. been busy .

    September 10, 2009 at 4:46 pm |
  31. Barb Anspach

    I too want to Thank You Anderson for your "real" reporting. I am the mother of a recently returning Afghanistan and Iraqi Sgt. in the Marine Corps. The American people somehow still need reminding of what our fighting men and women do for us every single day. Yes that is their job, but they deserve for sure our respect and thanfulness. Semper Fidelis!!

    September 10, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  32. CoCo7

    We need more straight reporting like this in the media, because we're drowning in yellow journalism and tabloid lies that are poisoning our culture. Keep givin' us the hard facts, the truth. Keep up the good work, Anderson. God bless the Marines and all who serve us abroad, and please protect our embedded reporters too.

    September 10, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  33. Myrna

    How have the Democrats and Republicans become so disassociated with the American voters? The Senate, Congress and President work for us. What is the purpose of continually speaking to the "emotion" of the health care issues? I am glad we have freedom of speech. It enables Joe Wilson to behave discourteously and unprofessionally, apologize and then retract the appology stating "the leadership" required it. Is Joe Wilson's rude misrepresentation of the facts important? The average American is trying to find a job, provide housing, food, electricity, water and quality of life. Why doesn't the government consider these issues important? How can the government continue to be so ignorant of every day life in America? When did hidden agendas, bipartisanship and the camel factor become the standard? We are all Americans. We are the greatest country in the world. Wake up government-to the real America.

    September 10, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  34. Laura Sue

    Thank you for reporting from Afghanistan. My high school sweetheart/best friend is over there and is stationed where you are reporting from. Keep safe and keep up the excellent work. Now if only the other journalist could follow your example.

    My best friend even e-mailed me last night telling me about y'all being on his base and how he is like most of the other Marines there very weary of y'all and would rather just keep his distance from you instead of getting tangled up in the messy reporting that most journalist do.

    September 10, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  35. Sarah, Canterbury - UK

    Kudos to CNN and AC for going out and getting the story and bringing it home.

    I wonder how much tougher it is for the families and people living their lives in Afghanistan. I guess that in essence, is what the troops will strive to one day achieve – giving these people a chance to live without fear and perhaps to enjoy some of the freedoms that we all take for granted.

    The one thing I really admire about Anderson (sorry, this is going to sound really cheesey and creepy – but its not in any way meant to be), is that he gets it – that what ever the challenges that face people be it war, famine, disease etc there is always someone worse off that you or I and it doesn't matter their nationality etc, we are all human and there are stories to be told.

    Good on you AC, you really should pat yourself on the back – what you are doing makes as a difference.

    September 10, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  36. 7pesos

    3rd bn. 9th marines, 3 mar. div.

    da nang, vietnam... july 1965- june 1966

    semper fi, marines.

    September 10, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  37. Jarhead6972

    Nice job Anderson. You seem to know that these young Marines are the same Marines this nation has been fielding since November 10, 1775. They are just as good and dedicated as Marines of any period. Being a former Marine I am very proud of them. Thank you for portraying them as the exempliary young Americans that they are.

    September 10, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  38. Gunny

    Thank you Mr Cooper for your report. God bless the U. S. Marines.

    September 10, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  39. Lee Nelson

    One of the very first popular Russian rock songs in the late 80's, by a band called "Kino" was Gruppa Krovi – "Blood Type". The chorus of the song starts with "My Blood Type on my sleeve / My serial number on my sleeve". The song wasn't explicitly about Afghanistan (it couldn't have been played on the radio if it was), but everyone knew what it was about. How ironic that 20 years later, our boys are in the same situation as the Soviet boys were back then. That's not a political statement, just a sad commentary on the repetition of history.

    September 10, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  40. Lisa W

    Anderson, you are the only reporter I watch on television. You report news like the greats (Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw, etc.) I want the news, no gossip, no celebrity crap, and you deliver it. Thank you for all that you do! I definitely appreciate it.

    September 10, 2009 at 4:34 pm |
  41. Tom

    When marines tell you thanks and you're a part of the media, they are being very sincere, from their point of view, your not on our side, until you prove yourself to us, and the incentive is the truth and actual opinions from our warrior culture in its present state. So I aplaud your Mr. Cooper, thank you, semper fidelis, see you over there soon.

    September 10, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  42. Hans in Danville

    Anderson Cooper stands as proof that a journalist can be factual, objective, patriotic, brave and compassionate all at once.

    September 10, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  43. Jeremy

    Thank you for being genuine and uninhibited. The American public deserves to be told what's really happening, minus media bias. As a former Marine of five years I know what its like to be deployed. Keep up the good work!

    September 10, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  44. karla

    Anderson, ever since I first saw you on ABC, I've been impressed by your no-nonsense down-to-earth reporting. You're not afraid to put your life on the line to bring the real story to the American people. Thanks. For too few Americans, the wars are something we rarely think about... perhaps not even daily or weekly. Yet every day, American men and women are putting their lives on the line. Thanks again.

    September 10, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  45. Veteran

    I served overseas for three years, proud of my service, fellow soldiers and my country. But what does a disservice to these American Soldiers are these people in the united states who don't want the Guantanimo detainees brought stateside.
    This is bringing the war home to them and they are scared, well sorry to say, these terrorists have already brought the war home to you.
    That's why we are over there in Afganistan. These redneck Kansan's who openly disscuss the "Best Way" to bring change to our country, is by asassinating the President, Vice President and Speaker of the House. Make me wish for my sidearm again. These cowards don't realize how good they have it!

    September 10, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  46. Dave

    Great Job Cooper! Outstanding reporting!

    September 10, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  47. LeeAnne

    I LOVE Anderson and his brilliant reporting! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!!
    My brother has been a Marine since 1996..no one knows what military families go through so thank you for bringing their story to light! Semper Fi Anderson and Semper Fi to all the Marines!

    September 10, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  48. Annie Kate

    When you work as hard as you and your crew obviously do, it is nice to be recognized as being good and being relevant by the very subjects you are reporting on - almost a validation of sorts. I'm glad the Marine spoke up and told you of his appreciation; when this war fades into history you will remember that Marine and what he said to you today and it will feel every bit as good then as it does now – one of those memories whose glow never fades.

    I have appreciated the coverage so far – it is sobering to watch the dedication of our young soldiers especially taking into account the conditions they serve in. One thing I was wondering about – you said there was just hot water; I assumed you meant hot water to drink as well as cook with, etc. I read something later that implied the hot water was just for cooking – do our men have cold water for drinking? In that climate I certainly hope they do.

    Thanks for all you are doing. Your work is very much appreciated. Be safe.

    September 10, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
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