“Hey, coming down to the final stretch over here. Hope to see you all soon. Thanks again for everything!” — Nick Kirven, April 2005
Nick Kirven was killed in action on 8 May 2005, almost a year before I joined the Marine Corps. I never met him. The closest I ever came was through his brothers in arms, many of whom were getting ready to leave either 3rd Battalion or the Marine Corps in November 2006 when I was assigned to his old unit, Kilo Company 2nd Platoon. His memory was kept alive through their behavior: their rigorous instance of proper combat drills, occasional references to some terrible day in Afghanistan, or just their general anger that a close friend had been taken from them.
That changed two years ago when I accidentally stumbled upon his old website, Nick’s Life From Around the World.
Last updated apparently in mid-April 2005, three weeks before his death, “Nick’s Life” is a bit surreal air since it hasn’t been touched or modified in ten years. It has a tiled background of the Statue of Liberty, annoying Tripod pop-up ads, even his email address, which for all I know is still functioning. Every once in a while I’m tempted to click on it, and I’m sure people have.
“Nick’s Life” is a time capsule back into a slightly different Marine Corps that was already changing after two years of sustained combat. There’s the obligatory hazing of the Marines on their first deployment, which has either vanished or just gone underground. Even Afghanistan was different. IEDs were just coming on the scene and combat was still pretty sporadic (monthly losses were almost all single digits). A lot of the pictures show him and his fellow Marines outside the wire wearing minimal protective equipment, sometimes just a beanie or baseball cap, unthinkable to those of us deploying there in 2010.
By and large, the pictures convey someone who is in an interesting place, frequently cold, and regularly bored out of his mind. It’s a feeling almost everyone who’s deployed to the Global War on Terror has had at some point. It’s totally routine, and that makes it even more disturbing: the mundane ho-hum thoughts of a man just weeks away from an unexpected and violent death.
Since I began the Task Force Trinity project I’ve learned a lot about Nick and many of our other fallen brothers. I even met his family once at Arlington National Cemetery in 2013. Although they have their own page dedicated to Nick, NicholasKirven.Com, with the anniversary of his death coming up I felt that I should take steps to help preserve his thoughts and images from the site for when it eventually shuts down. That way Nick’s memory and the life he led can help inspire future generations to try and lead a life as dedicated and remarkable as his.
Site News: It’s been almost two years since my last blog post, but I haven’t been slacking. A lot of work has been done on the Afghanistan 2004-2005 page, too numerous to detail, in conjunction with the ten year anniversary. I’ve been live-blogging the deployment on Twitter. We’ve also got quite a few new videos on the YouTube channel. Some other big news is I finally got the Command Chronologies for the Afghanistan 2011-2012 deployment, the Desert Shield / Desert Storm deployment, as well as an estimated 2700 pictures and media, most never previously published, from the Iraq 2009 deployment. I won’t be focusing on anything other than 2004-2005 until July, but we’ve got some great options for what to do next.