COMBAT OUTPOST TAGHAZ, Afghanistan – Lance Cpl. Kody Broderick, a Marine whose hometown’s name is most commonly associated with elves, Santa Claus, reindeer and snow, has heard all the jokes since he joined the Corps.
Broderick hails from North Pole, Alaska, a small town near Fairbanks featuring candy cane-themed street lights, a Santa Claus Lane and a place where thousands of children’s letters arrive for Santa each year.
A machine gunner with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, Broderick is now surrounded by Afghanistan’s sand and dirt, a long way from his hometown’s wintry snow and ice.
Broderick moved to North Pole when he was in the third grade.
“When I tell people I am from North Pole, they think I’m joking,” Broderick said. “I usually have to show them my driver’s license to get them to believe me.”
Broderick said he’s sometimes the butt of good-natured jokes.
Lance Cpl. Carl Adams, a mortar man with the company, said he asks Broderick questions about living in the North Pole and working with elves.
Broderick takes the humor in stride. He understands there is no ill will behind the Marines’ comments.
“They’ll ask me if my dad is Santa Claus, things like that,” he said.
Today, Broderick finds himself thousands of miles from home and in a country that reaches temperatures of more than 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
“I’m really glad I am not out here during the summer,” he said.
Broderick said he has had to adjust to Afghanistan’s temperatures as well as the country’s wintertime sunrise and sunset.
“During the winters in North Pole we get about 18 hours of darkness,” he said. “During the summer the sun almost never goes below the horizon. Now [in Afghanistan] at 7 a.m., the sun is rising and by 7 p.m. it has set.”
Broderick said he joined the Marines because he wanted to fight for his country.
“I remember it was 2001 when we moved to North Pole,” he recalled. “I remember because of the attack on Sept. 11, 2001. Ever since then, I thought I’d join the military when I got older. I wanted to be in the Marine Corps and fight in this war before it was over.”
Weapons Company functions as a quick-reaction force and the explosive ordnance disposal unit for the Afghan National Security Forces in the area. The Afghans are in the security lead, with the Marines supporting their efforts. The Marines are no longer clearing areas and going house-to-house but that does not stop Broderick from working hard.
“I’ve known him for about two-and-a-half months,” Adams said of his relationship with Broderick. “He tries to help out and make the best out of everything. He’s a good Marine.”
Broderick stands the guard post almost daily, helping to keep the area secure. Back home in Alaska, the snow has already started, with temperatures reaching minus-20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Broderick has traded Alaska’s snow for Afghanistan’s sand and his small town of mom and pop shops for an outpost of tents and security barriers. Yet for Broderick, it’s the fulfillment of his life’s dream.