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 20, 2006

Name: Mike Guzman
Posting date: 10/20/06
Stationed in: FOB, Iraq
Hometown: Kearny, NJ

I wonder if anyone back home in the US has any idea what is really going on here in Iraq. For some reason the media has to change everything to suit someone's interests, and I wonder if they even care about us over here. On this past Memorial Day, one journalist and her cameraman died. CNN ran the story and did about a five-minute piece on her. What made me so mad was that in that same incident a soldier also died, but I guess CNN only had 10 seconds left at the end of the story to say that a soldier had died. I wish they would actually do what they say they are doing and report what is actually happening. After I got back home the first time, in 2004, I told one of my friends that the longer we stay here the worse it is going to get, and I prove myself right.

I wonder if people back home know about the nightmares we have while we are awake, the trauma that we have in our heads because of what we have been through. I jump, watching movies that I've seen 1000 times, when there is shooting in them. I wonder if I will be able to drive back home without getting in trouble for driving in the middle of the road, and try to explain to the cops that I'm worried about roadside bombs. It happened to me once two years ago. And this time it will be worse. I've been hit multiple times by roadside bombs and not long ago a car bomb. I don't know if i will ever be able to have a normal life again.

I wish I knew what our mission in here is, too. Politicians say "Stay the course until victory." What victory? We aren't fighting anyone, we are driving around hoping not to get blown up. I'm guessing victory is when there are no more bombs to worry about? Or when we don't find anymore dead bodies on the streets every day? I wish I knew. I wish our leaders knew...


Mike, I am asking blessings on you as you go about your duty; I read your words and know how difficult it is for you at this moment. Much good has happened in Iraq: elections, a constitution, a government. Much bad is happening as well as the other side sees these exact things slipping political control forever from there hands. We have an election here and they are playing violence against the government here. This is not your conventional war and is thereby a 100 times more difficult. Hang in there Mike and take heart in knowing that I believe what you are doing has much purpose. The mission is difficult but there. No war is easy and this is more difficult for many reason than any we have fought before. Know that fighting is not always taking land and killing people. It can be subtle and hard to comprehend. Just do what you are doing and BELIEVE that you are making a difference. I know you and thousands of others like you are making a very definitive difference, it is just not measured in conventional ways. God bless you Mike and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you do and your many sacrifices on behalf of our beloved country.

My heart goes out to you. You appear to have hit the nail on the head. The people at home are not allowed to be engaged, it's whitewashed on a daily basis. People that are directly involved in what is happening there know what you are going through. People that have no personal involvement do not see images of the sacrifices being made; that doesn't win elections, so they can't imagine. Try not to be angry with them, they too are being used.

Unfortunately, you have come to the Viet Nam realization of this war. I'm so sorry. You truly do not deserve to be used like this, I wish I had the words or at least a magic wand to stop it.

Please keep your head down and return home. The healing will take time, but it happens.

Some people sort of have an idea, but mostly life goes on back here.
and for what is in your head that is all you, but some people will be there for you.
Don't think about all that too much if you can help it. Do your thing over there and worry about the later, later.

I'm 100% disabled from the Vietnam War. Been there, done that, and I'm crying because you're going thru what all combat vet's go through. Last NOVEMBER I was called a traitor for questioning what is going on. The arrogance of those who never served is amazing. But the pain will subside. God Bless and stay safe.

Please stay safe and when you get home make sure you get help to deal with all you have had to live through. I truly believe there is healing to be had but you will have to reach out and get it. The personal experience of war seems to be the part that those who decide to start them never even consider. Know that there is a whole country of normal folks who worry about you every day and appreciate the burden you are carrying.


There are many Americans that care about you and all our military personnel in combat, you need to keep telling us (and we are reading and searching for the truth constantly) what you see, hear and feel. I still ask people if we won or lost the Vietnam War - the country hasn't decided that yet, and never has fixed blame - but I have, you will end up doing the same with this war. What you do well, what you do for good reasons and what you can't do because you are only one human being will stay with you forever. Do lots of good things for the people you work with, you meet and you love. Take care out there, I will be watching and waiting.

I care.

So do a growing (over 60,000 in less than a year) amount of Americans that have joined the Patriot Guard Riders. It is a group of people from every walk of life, including many Veterans.

I urge you and your family to check out you may find that a lot of people you don't know care about you. I also belong to the American Legion Riders Dist. 6 Post 440 in Sacramento, Ca. and we work closely with the local Blue/Gold Star families to help in any way we can. We are here to help and can be reached at any time.

It saddens me to know we have our men and women over there that wonder if we care or know what is happening....just the other day, I was having lunch with a young lady that barley seemed old enough to be out of high school. Yet she is now a widow with a baby to raise on her own. Friends of her husband shared stories with us of how things are over there.....we know....we care.....god bless you....."b"

Brian Hopper
Patriot Guard Rider
American Legion Rider
Caring American


i scour the news trying to figure out what's going on, but this forum has been the most effective in finding out what soldiers are experiencing. people here, they see the news, and they cringe, because they know there is more to the story. they see soldiers and shudder to consider all the things they have seen. i want you home, i want you to be safe, you and all the other soldiers, my family, my friends who have been swept into this war, that no one at home rightly understands, either. i pray for you and hope you come home safely and are, one day, able to move past war and live the life that you can't right now.


It tears hy heart out to read your words..even though we don't here all of the brutul details, some of us can figure out to some extent what's really going on over there. I can't even imagine living every day feeling scared of what the day will bring. A lot of us support all of you over there and pray for your safe return to your families. Please do not be discouraged and hold you head up proudly. You are serving our country and I am proud of you and grateful for all that you are doing. God bless you Mike and thank you for everything you are doing for our country.

Mike, what you describe is why some of us oppose war. Not only this war, but ALL war. Because I believe that no person should ever have to experience what you have, and I believe that we can all work towards a world in which we have no war. Realistic? Maybe not, but somebody's gotta try, and it is specifically because of my Christian beliefs that I will continue to oppose all war. Take care of yourself; sometimes the only way we can get through something is to tell ourselves we can.

We want you home! I, for one, never wanted you to go through this in the first place. I am so sorry that we were unable to stop this war.

"we are driving around hoping not to get blown up."

This pretty much sums up the strategy in Vietnam when I was there (69-70, Cambodian border, 11th ACR). Hardly a clue where they were, trolling for contact. It gave them control over where, when, under what circumstances they initiated contact--tactically, a huge advantage for them.

I honor your service, and question the honor of those who sent you, and keep you, there.

Our prayers go out every day for the military that is involved in this war. Justified or not, you are there along with others, my son included. I cannot fathom what any of you go thru, it is horrible. The truth is on the blogs, not the nightly son also said it is so much worse this time. My God keep you safe and covered..may they come up with some plan to bring you all home soon.


I am no fan of this Administration or of this war, but I am a HUGE fan of you and your brothers and sisters in arms. This is a war being fought with "other people's children", of whom you are one.

I cringe with shame for our politicians who have never served and whose children have never served, yet so readily spend you young people as though you were coins found at the bottom of a linty pocket of a seldom-worn jacket.

Believe me, there is not a moment when you are not in the minds and hearts of many, many of us here at home.

Thank you, all of you, for what you are doing for the rest of us. And try hard to keep yourself safe. We will need you back home to remind war-mongering, non-serving politicans what war really means so we don't commit this folly again.

May God of whatever name and faith abide with you and keep you safe!

And you know what's worse? We can't tell who the hell our enemies are. They're wearing the same Iraqi army and police uniforms as the "friendlies." Who do we trust? I begin to wonder if we're doing any good at all anymore.

I can easily immagine what you feel. I have been born in 1943 in Frankfurt/Germany in a bunker "hospital" and they had to put the babies in drawers as there were no beds. I realized what war is when all men came back from prison camps. Most of them had something missing, a leg, an arm an eye etc. I found this completely normal until I moved to Belgium and saw men with nothing missing at the beach. My family and their friends could never forget what they all had seen or lived and sometimes behaved strange now I know why. When I were a child we used to play in the ruins and found that very funny ! We never thought about the people who died there.

Americans never had a worldwar on their territory and therefore only soldiers can understand you. That's why 9/11 had woke them up, that was the first time that something happened on the American territory. It's sad to say but "only" around 3000 died and what about the others who die now ? for a stupid war which has no sense at all besides oil business.
I sincerely hope that you can hold on and later make the best out of it and with help ! Somebody who cannot understand that is an idiot.

PS I don't even know how I found this page, but it got me furious.


I was in Nam and even though it wasn't exactly Iraqi, the deceptive rhetoric from the users who got us into the mess then remains the same today. Stay cool, be angry, be focused, and will yourself out of there. Just imagine where you're going to be, what you'll be doing when you get out, and it will be so.

Dear Mike, We wish we knew what you are doing there!
We really do know what you are going through, and wish you were not experiencing it. CNN and other talking heads have what they think we want to know on their programs. Everybody is a news spinner.
The person who says 'Stay the course" is an idiot. 'Cut and Run' is another cliche which is thrown out, by people who don't know what they are talking about. The soldiers in Iraq should be a better mix of these U.S. populations.
We are praying for all of you. Hang in there, and watch your back and your buddy's.

We do care and many or us have cared from the very begining. The sad part is that if we questioned the reason for being in Iraq we were called unpatriotic. The only patriotic people were the ones that put stickers on their cars and praised Bush & Co for getting us into this war. To me that is not patriotism. Patriotism is sacrificing for your country like what you are doing. That is patriotism! I pray for you and your fellow soldiers. God bless you and keep you safe. And thank you for telling it like it is. You are a brave young man.

Dear Mike,
There are a lot of use back here that know what is going on and some who know exactly what you are going through. I am sorry that corporate media is being anything but truthful. From what I see and hear from corporate media is a candy-coated version of the news from over there. I really feel bad that this has happened to you guys/gals. After I got out of the service in the 70s I never thought I would see this type of atrocity again. I strongly believe in defending our country and helping our allies maintain peace (that is why we have the U.N.). I don't believe in invading a country because maybe they might be a threat to us some day. But I believe this is what happens when we let corporate leader and lobbyist run our country. At one time in history the King would lead his people into battle, I wish that were the case now. I wish I could bring everyone home tomorrow without delay. The people of Iraq are going to do what ever they are going to do, our presents makes no difference. I believe once we are gone the end result will be just like Viet Nam. The country will fall, there will be turmoil and they will set up whatever government they want.
BUT this is the main thing, you need to stay alert and keep focused on watching out for you and your buds. There is a TON of us back here that care about you. We will do as much as we can to get you guys safely back as soon as possible. Keep posting to this blog we want to hear from you.
I pray that God keeps you and your buds out of harms way.

I do care. I have done all that I can to shed light on the lies and mistakes that put you and others into Iraq and that keep you there. I can add very little to what all the others wrote above other than just one more voice. Stay safe. I'm sorry.


As far as I know - you're simply trying to keep yourself and your buddies alive in what has got to be the one completely screwed-up ClusterPhuc of the Century.

I had smoke-rings blown up my azz during Vietnam, so I wasn't in any hurry to jump on the "Let's Invade Iraq" Bandwagon with the politicians. Seems they didn't have any more idea of what they were doing than the idiots running the country back in the 60's.... Too bad some folks don't learn from history.

When you get back, make sure you head to the VA - file claims for anything you're suffering - and get the appropriate treatment. Don't pull any "John Wayne" stuff it inside crap - that'll only bite ya in the azz.

And there's more cops out there will understand than you'de imagine. BTDT and have multiple T-Shirts...

Hang in and good luck!!


I am so scared for you all. My brother was in the first Gulf War, in the Royal Air Force. I keep all the letters he sent me while there. I am so thankful he left the RAF. He moved to Australia and is now an animator, but still isn't well. My dad was in the Royal Navy, too. So I know a bit about the cameraderie and the lighter moments...I suppose you have to just hang on to those...but my heart goes out to you all and I hope you can get home soon.
Am I allowed to say on this thread that the war isn't supported here either? (England). This isn't the same as saying the service personnel aren't supported. We are rooting for you all, just not for the people who sent you.
From Colchester, England.

To Mike, and to all who have posted here.

First, wow, I am impressed. I live outside the US and my feelings were much like Mike's -- is anyone listening, is anyone caring, is anyone really trying to get Mike out of this?

I want to thank Mike for making this seem so real to me. I do my best to find out what's really going on, but I had really thought that I'm not going to change the situation no matter what I do -- the politicians have seen to that. Knowing that Mike has come forth with such honesty and seeing these responses makes me feel that yes, maybe we who care can get Mike home safe.

Mike, keep well. We do care, and we will do our best (or my best) to make your life back home as best as possible -- if a cop does bust you for driving down the center of the road, post here and I think you'll find lotsa support!

Hi Mike, Thanks for serving.

Yes, the military is not like the commercials. You've matured and grown. Nobody realy cares about you guys, because everyone has their own problems. With kids, mortgages, spouses, etc. etc.

This is the real world. You guys aren't heros. You're like all the millions who've come before you, cogs in a machine.

I hope you all make it back home, retire, get good jobs and pay taxes. Educate others to the system.

No, unless someone has actually been in a combat situation, they have NO idea what you are going through. But, YES many of us do care! My son-in-law is being deployed in a little over a week to the Middle East. His brother is already in Iraq fighting for his LIFE. My prayers are with you and all of our military personnel. Words cannot express the feelings I (and others I am sure) have. But I will say this - inadequate as it may be: Thank you.

Hi Vampire soldier,
I want you to know that this lady friend I were just talking about what you going through. I just had to e-mail you

Here is a snippet of what I said I worry about for all of you.

You see correspond with few of the soldiers and help them out and she telling me about them this what I said! I am just civilian on the east coast and wanted you know I am worry about the same thing!

But do not give up hope on them. These people need our love and compassion and our encouragment but I bet they want to be home now too after all these years etc....
One small word of encouragment or silly joke can make all the difference to them to keep them going.
They will not forget the letters and will be in there memory for life.

You know what I worry about the most is ten years from now if the wars are over who will taking of our troops
when they hit 40, 50, 60, 70 years old ahve medical problems . There are hardly any VA hopistals left and there memroies and flashbacks will be there still and not go away. How many will be homeless because they wives did not understand or the depression when it hits are long and aweful worse than my mothers because there tempers are short and can not handle the job or the stress. Dropped box or clang of pot or pan will send them in flashback
and it not in the begiining when there home it can come later in life. THe goverment if I know them will cut back on erverything they promised them. What about all the head wounds soldiers they are cutting back on the grants
now it went from 1 million in the paast year to nothing to save the almighty dollar for the wars?

This what I am really worry about they may not have died on the battlefield but died later in our society because we are afraid them and there personailty because of the flashback etc....

Sorry for length of this letter.
Let me know how evertything goes and if you feel it coming on again.
You maybe just lucky enough that it only happen once in your lifetime.
But I know doing this for these soldiers get me down too and I feel I am not doing enough for them etc...
I want to prevent them from dieing or just hold each one them in my arms the one in the hospital and the ones
who have died to know we care.

It Takes a lot of striength and compassion to keep this up for them but someone has to keep this going and I determined to keep them going. They need to know family will be remenbered and that average everyday people
are still there that love them inspite of what they are seeing and witnessing and how badly scared they will be some of them when they come home.

Better Go.
Warms Hugs and Lots of compassion
Have a Good Day for me.
Sincerley Eileen

I hope that after you and your brothers get home safely you will be able to find out why you were there. Just like Vietnam, that question will take time a long time to answer. Stay safe, watch each others backs and come home soon.

I feel horribly for you. You are in a living hell, and not only do millions of us civilians disagree with this war at this point, you are starting to doubt it as well. That puts you in an awful position. I pray for you, OUR soldiers, every day. I cannot imagine the horror you are living through every day. I know there is some sort of purpose for you all to be over there. I pray that the job gets done (according to "their" definition) and you can all come home. Maybe being with your loved ones (and some therapy) you'll be able to lead a somewhat normal life. Good luck and God bless you.

This might not make you fell better but I don't think the people over here know what victory is either, that's why networks don't know what to report. Keep sending the emails and we can keep up through you. We love hearing from you and God Bless.

Hang in there, hang in there, hang in there.

And of COURSE it's going to change you. Of COURSE you're going to be different when you get home than you were when you left. But... if you'd stayed home you'd be different now than you were a few years ago. Just a different sort of different, see? :)

The hell with the media. They suck anyways. But... your post is a sort of news report, so... honesty gets out somehow.

Here in the States, we aren't allowed to know your suffering.

1) The government does not want us to see the awful truth of your situation
2) The news outlets no longer exist to inform. They exist to garner ratings to pump up their advertising revenues. They mostly engage in info-tainment.

While many would have you believe that being anti-war in principal means that we do not support our troops that is not true.

Take care of yourself and I hope you can come home soon.


I am not a liberal or a conservative, i probably would respect your reasons for being in iraq, but i would have to call you naive. Since the moment i saw the wtc on fire after the planes hit, i knew it was a setup, a consipracy or whatever you wanna call it. Only since then have i started to search for info on who could possibly be powerfull enough to manipulate so many people into helping this coverup.
Well,my brother, if you wanna know, do google searches on things like, bohemian grove, mkultra, H.a.r.p., loosechange 2nd edition, and, everything you can possibly think of was masterminded by them,its a dark world my friend and the us military industrial complex has spread alot of lives, the way i see it, you guys are really the balance of what happens in this world, thats the way it is, now we just gotta hope that you stop working for the ones at present and use your power for real good. It'll be a real war, the toughest thing any of us have ever done. Who cares what zombies think, i know , i love some to, but when they are informed and wake up they will thank you for it, loveya friend.

Thanks so much for all you do and for giving a realer picture to all you go through!!! The US media seems so skewed, and only tells people what they want to hear, instead of giving credit to our soldiers, where much credit is due. It sounds like such a depressing place to be, without a real goal, but I’ll pray for you that you may have joy in serving your country and that our nation would have a renewed sense of patriotism to stand behind all of you who fight so valiantly!! Thanks for all you’re doing!!!!

Obviously most of the folks responding to your bravely honest words do care what does/does not happen to you and your buds. So do I! This time next week the whole USA will vote, the outcome not likely to keep The Decider smiling or his Top Brass pretending all OK. Gigantic changes will occur pronto. Trust your animal instincts and the high odds that, alive and well, you will be home and telling the rest of your true story. BRAVO to you!

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