Third Squad

Third Squad

In 2011, veteran and journalist Elliott Woods embedded with the twelve Marines of Third Squad in one of the most violent parts of Afghanistan at the height of the war against the Taliban. Only eleven of the twelve would make it home. A decade later—with America’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan looming—Elliott goes on a cross-country road trip to track down the Third Squad survivors, to talk about the war and coming home, and to ask: What was it all for? And where do we go from here? Third Squad is a 12-part documentary podcast hosted by Woods and produced by Airloom Media. New episodes every Thursday starting October 21, 2021.

Episodes

February 9, 2022 88 min

Asheville, NC: Teresa Bradley still lives in the house where she grew up and where she raised her twin sons, Michael and Timothy Dutcher. In the final visit of the journey, Teresa and Tim tell the story of Michael’s life and how his death continues to haunt their family.

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Ventnor City, NJ: Jeffrey Lopez grew up steps away from the Atlantic Ocean with a house full of brothers who loved to fight. His mother, Rosibel, escaped war-torn El Salvador in hopes of raising her family in peace—and her son’s deployment to Sangin was a nightmare come true.

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January 6, 2022 63 min

Deer River, NY: As a teenager, Taylor Moody had a mohawk and cared more about punk shows than school. He tells Elliott about his tough adjustment to the disciplined life of a Marine and his quest to find a place for himself back home.

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December 16, 2021 66 min

Greensburg, PA: As squad leader, Jeric Fry’s biggest responsibility was to keep his Marines alive. He could never have known that he’d save the life of one of his Marines years after the squad came home.

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December 9, 2021 64 min

Lexington, KY: In Sangin, Scott McEtchin told Elliott that he joined the Marines to get his life together after a bout of teenage trouble. But trouble wasn’t far behind when McEtchin got back from Afghanistan.

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December 2, 2021 56 min

Palmer, AK: Elliott takes a detour from the road trip to fly to Alaska, home to David Richvalsky, Third Squad’s machine gunner. During an ATV trip to a glacier, Richvalsky describes the gaps in his memory caused by concussions from IED blasts—which he says may actually help him avoid dwelling on the worst moments of his deployment.

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November 26, 2021 12 min

Elliott Woods discusses the making of Third Squad with Scott Tong on WBUR’s Here & Now.

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November 18, 2021 61 min

Spearfish, SD: As Third Squad’s radio operator, John Bohlinger had the grim task of calling in medevac helicopters for his wounded friends. He also had awesome firepower at his fingertips. With his wife Hannah by his side, Bohlinger tells Elliott about the difficult transition from a trained killer back to a husband and father.

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November 11, 2021 60 min

Rapid City, SD: Brian Shearer was a gung-ho 17 year-old when he joined the Marines, with nothing to lose but the PlayStation he willed to his brother. In Sangin he was a designated marksman whose job was to kill with long-range precision. A father of two boys now, he learns from his own dad what it was like to send a child off to war.

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November 4, 2021 57 min

The Woodlands, TX: The Marines offered Manny Mendoza a ticket out of the small Texas border town where he grew up. In Sangin, he felt a crushing burden of responsibility for his fellow Marines, who he loved like brothers. At his home in the Houston suburbs, Mendoza tells Elliott about the debt he owes to the dead.

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October 28, 2021 55 min

The Woodlands, TX: Third Squad’s corpsman, Matthew Foreit, was responsible for treating injured Marines on the battlefield in Sangin. A decade later, Foreit tells Elliott he’s still grappling with the feeling that he could’ve done more.

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October 21, 2021 54 min

Sangin, Afghanistan, 2011: Michael Dutcher and the rest of Third Squad lived in a sweltering mudbrick compound called Patrol Base Fires, surrounded by lush farmland, irrigation canals, and a minefield of IEDs. In Elliott’s original audio from Sangin, the Third Squad Marines describe life in Sangin during the Afghanistan “surge” and the horrific events of June 2011, when half the PB Fires Marines got wounded or killed.

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October 21, 2021 56 min

Camp Pendleton, CA: The journey begins on the hallowed ground of First Sergeant’s Hill, which looks down on the headquarters of the 5th Marine Regiment at Camp Pendleton, California, where Third Squad lived before they deployed. Ten years after meeting in Sangin, Third Squad’s Michael Minor takes Elliott on a hike up to a memorial to dead Marines and guides him through his rough passage back to civilian life.

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October 19, 2021 3 min

In 2011, veteran and journalist Elliott Woods embedded with the twelve Marines of Third Squad in one of the most violent parts of Afghanistan at the height of the war against the Taliban. Only eleven of the twelve would make it home. A decade later—with America’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan looming—Elliott goes on a cross-country road trip to track down the Third Squad survivors, to talk about the war and coming home, and t...

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