The Gift of Hope

Armed for battle, U.S. Marines find mostly smiles and waves as they fan out into the Somalian countryside

Under the blazing morning sun a hodgepodge of military vehicles falls into sloppy formation on the dunes near the Mogadishu airport. Somali children sneak through shell holes in a wall to beg for food and baksheesh. Marines shoot souvenir snapshots of each other as the convoy slowly takes shape.

Six days after the Marines arrived in the coastal capital of Mogadishu, they were finally going out into the countryside where starving Somalis and relief workers alike are eager for their help. The 700-person contingent was headed for Baidoa, a southern Somalian town where famine has hit especially hard; it is there,...

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