The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


October 09, 2006

Name: Doc in the Box
Posting date: 10/9/06
Stationed in: Iraq
Hometown: Prescott, AZ
Milblog url:

After three trips out here you start to notice trends -- what works, and the people who make a difference. There's always someone who goes beyond what is expected of them, doing things that aren't asked, and has that shining moment when they're so pissed or some subject irks them so much that they just have to fix it.

There's a guy in our squadron who worked construction for the decade prior to joining the Marines in his late 30's on an age waiver. He came out here and witnessed the shoddy work that his fellow Marines had done -- primitive benches, shelves that weren't level, lean-to's covering the smoking areas -- in some cases I've seen better construction on a tree house. Hidden behind his mild-mannered bifocals, Sgt Elka started building a deep resentment for all of the crap that these amateurs had built and were displaying proudly.

My own pet peeve was the crappy bookshelves that were up. People who lived in shanties would have made better bookshelves then the ones we were using. So one of our first projects was to make some new book shelves, and I planned to use them to put everything in order. (One of our officers was also getting miffed by all of the books lying around, and was requesting marshmallows in care packages for the book burning, so we had to work quickly).

Then Sgt Elka started in on making these octagon picnic tables and putting park benches all over. As usual, no good deed goes unpunished, and the command started putting in requests too. Soon we had a phone booth built with it's own AC unit. CO's from other units would come by and start talking about wanting such things at their units (and - egad! - having their books put in order!! Glad I'm going home soon. Have you ever had to go through several thousand books that have been through a couple of years worth of dust storms? Very messy!)

It's not the people who do well on their day jobs who make the mark that everyone remembers, it's those cranky old men who get pissed off by the status quo and do something about it. I know those book shelves and picnic tables will be around for a long time after we're gone.


Well, somebody has to clean those books...
Tee-Hee! -I'm just being sarcastic, don't take it the wrong way! Cause I'm proud of you for your service, being there, and doing what you do. It's funny and cool how sometimes the little things make life better. Whether it's bookshevles and octagon picnic tables, or having clean books!
You're helping!
And I respect you!
*Thank you*
Heather L.

I was medical, stateside for Desert Storm. My brother was seabees....
I know the construction battalion wouldn't have put up that kind of craftmanship. What gives?
Christine M

"There's a guy in our squadron who worked construction for the decade prior to joining the Marines in his late 30's on an age waiver."

Who are you calling old, buddy!

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