Rumors are spreading online that nine Marines recently died in Afghanistan.
But that's not true.
The Facebook posts like this one have caused heated social-media arguments, with commenters placing pointed blame for the loss of troops on everyone from President Trump to Marine Corps commanders to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. And, surely, the posts also resulted in many prayers by good-hearted citizens.
The post starts like this: "We are asking everyone to say a prayer for 'Darkhorse' 3rd Battalion 5th Marines and their families. They are fighting it out in Afghanistan and have lost 9 marine in 4 days. Please repost this."
The post may be based in some truth, and circulated with good intentions, but the problem is, most of the information is false.
The service members listed in the widely-circulated post did lose their lives in Afghanistan, and within four days of each other. They all died in 2010; but only two were Marines.
- Army Sgt. Justin Allen, 23
- Brett Linley, 29, of the United Kingdom's Royal Logistics Corps
- Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Weikert, 29
- Justus Bartett, 27, is likely Marine Staff. Sgt. Justus Bartelt
- Marine Cpl. Dave Santos, 21
- Army Spc. Jesse Reed, 26
- Army Spc. Matthew Johnson, 21
- Army Sgt. Zachary Fisher, 24
- Army Pfc. Brandon King, 23
- Army 1st Lt. Christopher Goeke, 23
- Army Staff Sgt. Sheldon Tate, 27
In fact, a task force of about 300 Marines headed back to Afghanistan just a few weeks ago for the first time since 2014. And though they are not currently on the front lines, they could be in harm's way. But no Marines have died in Afghanistan this year.
The 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, nicknamed "Darkhorse," is based at Camp Pendleton, California. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the battalion did lose 25 Marines in the Helmend province from 2010 to 2011.
The 1st Marine Division posteda message Monday debunking the rumor.
"While we continue to honor those who gave all, this post dates back to the unit's deployment in 2010 and is not current. V35 is now in their training cycle preparing to answer the nation's call with an upcoming deployment to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit," according to the post.
The recent rumors appear to have popped up on the internet periodically since 2010. But, these past few weeks it has exploded again resulting in many shares, and many readers sending concerns to the Marine Corps Times’ inbox.
These troops did give their lives. But, fortunately, this viral post isn't "new," or even accurate, news.
Andrea Scott is managing editor of Marine Corps Times. On Twitter: @_andreascott.