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Photos offer look into Northland soldier's work in Afghanistan

U.S. Army Cpl. Brian Lewis can't tell his family and friends back in the Northland specifics about what he's doing during his deployment in a remote corner of Afghanistan, but they eagerly await his e-mails and occasional calls from the other sid...

Cpl. Brian Lewis
U.S. Army Cpl. Brian Lewis of Esko, a team leader assigned to 1st Platoon, Blackfoot Company, conducts a security patrol on June 1 during an investigation of an improvised explosive device that detonated hours earlier in the Terezayi district of Afghanistan's Khost province. (Staff Sgt. Jason Epperson / U.S. Army)

U.S. Army Cpl. Brian Lewis can't tell his family and friends back in the Northland specifics about what he's doing during his deployment in a remote corner of Afghanistan, but they eagerly await his e-mails and occasional calls from the other side of the globe.

"You're nervous, you're proud, you're scared -- you wait for that e-mail; it's a roller-coaster of emotions," Mike Lewis of Superior said of having his younger brother serving in a war zone.

"He can't really tell me too much. He says he'll have stories to tell when he gets home," said Brian and Mike's mom, Jackie Lewis of Moose Lake. "I keep counting the days until he gets home."

And it'll be a very eventful trip home on his scheduled leave next month -- he's due to marry his fiancee, Kendra Horak, in Duluth on July 7.

Brian Lewis is just one of dozens of soldiers and Marines with Northland ties who have served and continue to serve in Afghanistan. A series of photographs provided by the military this week of Lewis and his unit gives a unique glimpse into the work he's doing there.

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Lewis, 25, is one of four brothers. He graduated from Esko High School, where he played baseball and football. After three years of college, he decided to enlist in the Army.

His younger brother Steve, who followed Brian into the Army and is stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, awaiting his own deployment to Afghanistan later this year, said his brother could be called an "adrenaline junkie."

"He wanted to do something that most other people don't get to do, (to do something) adventurous, not be ordinary," Steve said of his older brother.

Brian Lewis completed Airborne training and had started Special Forces training at the time of the deployment, his family said.

He deployed to Afghanistan in December -- his first deployment -- with the Alaska-based 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment. At present he's a team leader assigned to 1st Platoon, Blackfoot Company, serving out of Combat Outpost Cherkatah in Khost province near the border with Pakistan.

Mike Lewis said his brother reports that days in Afghanistan are spent, in general, performing one of three roles: going out on patrol in surrounding villages; serving as a back-up for another group out on patrol in case of trouble; or providing security for the outpost.

"He says he enjoys it," Mike Lewis said his brother told him. "Compared to training days back in the states, you feel like you have a sense of purpose. Instead of training for something that could or could not happen, now you're actually living it."

Horak said her fiance recounts in e-mails and calls that it's hot, and the food the soldiers get at the remote outpost isn't great. But "he's proud of what he does."

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"It's a constant worry," Horak said of having a loved one overseas. "But you just pray that he's safe and that he's in good hands."

Mike Lewis said his brother has formed close bonds with his unit during the deployment, considering them to be like a family.

"He comes from a close family and friends (and) he was able to find a career where he has that on the working side of things as well," Mike Lewis said. "I think that's one of the reasons he's been able to enjoy it. It's not an easy situation for anybody, but he's able to get the positives out of it."

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