HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Riding in an armored truck over Afghanistan’s rutted dirt roads is scarcely a smooth or comfortable experience.
Each bump is felt as springs groan and creak under the weight of the mine resistant, ambush-protected vehicle. The air conditioner circulates dusty air, and unless you’re right next to the vents, you’re drenched in sweat. Body armor weighs down on shoulders and compounds the pain of sitting in one spot for hours on end.
For Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Stephen Mader and his dog Maxx, this experience is routine. Mader is an improvised explosive device detector dog handler with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 6.