Cousin won't take freedom for granted
By Lance Cpl. Jess Levens
| | May 21, 2004
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
They were inseparable. Born just one day apart, these small-town Minnesota boys were more than cousins; they were best friends. The Marine Corps brought them even closer, but war separated them forever.
Homemade punk music resounded through the small town of Kettle River, Minn., as the band, The Humbuckers, regularly practiced. Martin Langhorst sang and played lead guitar, and his cousin, Moises Langhorst, sang and played rhythm guitar.
When they weren't practicing or making plans for the band, they were in the woods hunting for small game. They did almost everything together, according to Martin.
"When we were teenagers, it was all about the band," said Martin. "We got a little older, and it started to become more about the Marine Corps. Moises especially wanted to join. He even painted his (sport utility vehicle) camouflage."
As high-school graduation neared, Martin and Moises sought out their local Marine recruiter. They planned to enlist through a buddy program, but there was a problem.
"Moises was good to go, but there was a problem with my transcripts," said Martin. "I was home-schooled, so I didn't have the usual paperwork."
Moises joined as an infantryman while Martin stayed back to organize his paperwork. When Moises returned from recruit training, Martin was ready to go.
"Moises actually got recruiting points because I joined when he was home on leave," said Martin. "I'm a big reason he got promoted to (private first class). We always helped each other out however we could."
Moises joined Infantry Training Battalion and Martin began recruit training here nearly 13 weeks ago with Platoon 1065, Company B.
"Even though we were separated, I felt closer than I've ever felt to him," said Martin. "We were more than cousins or best friends. We were brothers in arms."
While Martin continued to pursue the title Marine, Moises deployed to Iraq to do his part in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"We were up north at Edson Range when I was called in to see the company commander," recalled Martin. "My family passed a Red Cross message. Moises was killed in combat. I didn't get any details. I just know that on April 6, my best friend died."
Actually, Moises died April 5 while serving with 2nd Bn., 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif. He was killed in the province of Al Anbar, Iraq, during a firefight, according to a U.S. Department of Defense news release.
"He was devastated when he got the news," said Staff Sgt. John Maciel, Martin's senior drill instructor. "But his desire to become a Marine never wavered."
Co. B leaders granted Martin emergency leave for Moises' funeral. He returned to recruit training just in time for the Crucible, the most challenging training evolution in the cycle.
"When he came back from the funeral, the platoon gave him a welcome-back card," said Maciel. "He seemed more focused after that."
"I was really down before I went home for the funeral," said Martin. "I was so sad. But after I spent four days at home and went to Moises' funeral, I came back motivated. I don't take freedom for granted, and I want to ensure the next generations have the freedom I've had, the freedom I'm ready to fight for ... the freedom Moises died for."
The pain of losing someone so close and dear is hard, according to Martin. The void in his life is there, but it's been partially filled by his fellow platoon members and anyone else who wears the eagle, globe and anchor.
"To get through something like this while in recruit training shows that he has a lot of heart," said Maciel. "His potential is unlimited in or out of the Marine Corps."
Martin graduates today, with one goal in mind: go to Iraq and fight.
"It's not even about revenge or anything like that," said Martin. "It's the right thing to do. I support this country, and I'm ready to die if I have to."
Now able to defend freedom, Martin will spend 10 days with his family and friends in Kettle River. With a population of 168 people and no gas station or grocery store, the town is relatively unknown. However, it is home to some good hunting, and The Humbuckers - probably the only punk band in town history.