KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan --
In 2005, the most important things for Christopher Pou and Marc Longoria were getting to school on time, finding a date for the weekend and memorizing football plays.
Flash forward to 2011, and the most important thing for the duo has become ensuring Marine Attack Squadron 513’s AV-8B Harriers are ready to fly combat sorties in southwestern Afghanistan.
Pou, a sergeant in the Marine Corps, serves as a VMA-513 quality assurance representative and ordnance technician. Longoria, a corporal, is a VMA-513 powerline mechanic. Both are Yuma, Ariz., natives, and both are currently supporting NATO International Security Force Operations in Afghanistan with the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma based squadron.
The Corps has a long and ongoing history of friends serving together. Pou and Longoria’s story begins in 2001 during their freshman year at Yuma High School.
“We met through a mutual friend,” said Pou. “We’d walk home together, without knowing that he grew up less than a block away from me.”
Pou enlisted in the Marine Corps six months after high school graduation, and served with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267 in Camp Pendleton, Calif. But, distance didn’t separate the two.
“Every time I’d come home, we’d see each other at parties,” Pou said.
Two years after Pou’s enlistment began; Longoria would also find himself in recruit training. While both said their fathers served in the Corps, it was the death of Longoria’s cousin in Iraq that pushed him to take up arms for his country.
In January 2010, the Marines would be reunited, this time as Marines. They found themselves serving with the same squadron, and in their hometown.
Both Marines greeted each other cordially in the first encounter at the Yuma air station.
“It was one of those ‘Hey! What’s up man?’ kind of things,” Pou said.
Now working in Afghanistan, both agree knowing someone from home helps alleviate the challenges that can come with deployment.
“It makes it easier,” Longoria said. “There’s more stuff to talk about other than what’s going on at work.”
Longoria has a fiancée waiting for him back in Yuma. Pou deployed with a wife, daughter and newborn son he has yet to meet awaiting his return to the U.S. Both said their families are what they miss most, and at the same time the Afghan experience is something only they will share.
And even though they are thousands of miles from home, their families said they are happy the two are serving together.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Staci Pou, the sergeant’s wife. “It shows how far they have come in life and how much sacrifice they make for all of us. Just knowing you have close friends out there, and someone from home, gives you a little more of a push to carry on each day and also a little taste of home.”
Pou and Longoria plan to continue their history of concurrent service, with the two of them thinking about becoming recruiters in Yuma. Perhaps they will find another duo ready to earn the title ‘Marine,’ together.