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.

MY MISSION |

October 24, 2006

MY MISSION
Name: The Unknown
Posting date: 10/24/06
Stationed in: Iraq
Hometown: Ohio

This is my first deployment to Iraq, and I am not afraid to say that I am scared to death every time we leave the wire. We got hit with an IED about three weeks ago. The powers that be "grounded" me for three days. Since I started going back on patrol, I have noticed that my nerves are more unsettled than they have ever been. Every time we go out, I know there is a chance we may get hit or shot at. I accept that. That is part of my job. No, my duty.

What makes me angry is that some people, both Soldiers and American civilians, don't understand that most of us are here because we see that there is good in the Iraqi people. I, for one, respect the local nationals. They have lived in this hell all of their lives. What tugs at my heart are the children. When we go to the outer-lying villages the families are so poor, it breaks my heart to see people like this. The children are very happy to see us. They flock to us for candy, soccer balls, water, attention.

I try to make a difference. I have my family and friends send me snacks and other goodies to give to the children. I feel that if I can make a child smile for a day, I have completed my mission. That mission is to win the hearts and minds. The hearts and minds. My fellow Soldiers are here to make a difference. The ones who complain and say that they don't want to be here, the ones who say this isn't their war, the ones who say they don't want to be in the Army, the ones who say they don't care -- aren't really Soldiers. Being a Soldier means that you are proud of who you are and what you're doing. These "soldiers" knew what they were getting into when they swore in.

All I have left to say is: respect us, respect yourself, respect the locals. This will all be over one day. Until then, suck it up and drive on!!

Comments

I know you are scared, I would be too, but I believe you guys are the bravest people in the world. We are proud of you and are praying for you.

There is no way to thank you for what you are doing except to keep you in our thoughts and prayers as so many do. I am especially heartened to hear from you that you do meet good Iraqi people - that is so hard to keep in mind when the news we see and hear is predominately bad news. We are seldom told anywhing about the "ordinary" people of the country, whose lives are a living hell and have been forever; the media just tells us about the roadside bombs, the insurgents, the fanatic religious factions - and yes, there is bad news in abundance to report. How wonderful, then, to learn that you, there on the ground in the midst of it all, believe in the good of the Iraqi people and believe you are doing good things for them. Again, I thank you with all my heart.

Thanks again for serving and caring about the impossible jobs that you are given! I would gladly pay more out of our country's coffers if I thought the mission to rebuild would succeed. It is very disheartening to see how our leaders have left the rebuilders and soldier out to dry in this situation. Best of luck to you, and may you and the Iraqis return to safety some day soon. We have not forgotten.

Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for defending my freedom, I will never forget it is guys like you who died for us to have the freedom we do. I am eternally gratefull.
I think about you guys everyday. I for one agree with you that the people in uniform must be proud of who they are and what they are doing to be "Soldiers". I respect, love, and honor the real "Soldiers".
Come home safe.

To all my extended family in Iraq and around the world. We are all brothers and sisters in arms,some are in a place that seems to familar to we how served in Nam.We to had a hard time distingushing the differents between friend and foe,and found most of the locals to be friendly and wanting a better life for themselves a nd families.We that is our family pray that this will have a better ending,and that you will return safely to your loved ones.Keep the faith Brothers and may you return home soon.God bless you all.

Your Bro. in arms;
Sal

Don't set yourself up for an insurmountable task. As you try to make a difference, it's often one step forward and three back. That's unfortunately the nature of things.

The locals have lived there all their lives - and they'll continue to exist there in whatever environment they and their government create for themselves long after you are gone.

Too often we are placed in untenable positions, you ease this with the kindnesses you mention - you have your own burdens, they are heavy enough. Take care of yourself that you can take care of others.

Ron

Well, I also reserve the right to respect "[t]he ones who complain and say that they don't want to be here, the ones who say this isn't their war, the ones who say they don't want to be in the Army, the ones who say they don't care."

Yes, they are soldiers too. And I respect them.

It was vietnamazition 40 years ago. Train them to fend for themelves. It did not work. It will not work today.

Amen! And please remember and pass on to those around you. That we do support what you all are doing. I "beef" with command authorities is that you ARE NOT being allowed to go on the "offensive," but operate in a "defensive" mode. It's not that great, if you are at war you have to break things, blow up things and yes, kill the person trying to kill you and your comrades. God speed.

I'm glad that you are at peace with what you are doing. ALL of the soldiers, whether or not they believe in this war, are heroes, and are no less a soldier than you are. They are being honest, and even brave, for speaking their mind. After all, that's what America is about, the right to believe in what you want to. There is a religious war going on in Iraq. Do we really have the right to be there? My son is proudly serving in Iraq, and like you, each and every day I don't know whether I will ever hear his sweet voice again because of snipers, IED's, traitors among the good people. God bless all of you, whether or not you believe in your mission, you all believe in the United States of America. Do not pass judgement on your fellow soldiers. This is from a Mom, who is proud of her son, and proud that he is doing what he is doing, even if he is honest enough to question the morality of it all.

I thank you for the job you are doing, and I pray for God to watch over you and bring you home safely. I am also from Ohio. God bless all of our troops!!!

Be proud! We are certainly very proud of you - more than you can know. And we can never thank you sufficiently. Godspeed.

Dear ?;
I think your first sentence pretty much described who you are, new to the game.
As a vet I stand behind every man and woman in the military. But just because those men and women raised a hand to take an oath does not give our leaders the right to put them in harm's way on a personal whim. Training their people to defend THEIR country DOES NOT WORK. It did not work in Viet Nam. Their fellow countrymen have to support their people being trained to defend their country.

The purpose of soldiers is to kill other soldiers on command. The purpose of our ambassadors and Peace Corps is to spread goodwill among the people of foreign countries. You need to get a grip, for your safety. Giving candy and toys to the kids will not make the parents feel any better about the situation that they are in. If you think making friends with the children will eliminate personal risk to your life you are DEAD wrong. If your command has instructed you to do this, be an ambassador of goodwill, then they don't need to be in charge.
Here is a thought that an old marine told me. "There is a soldier, form another land, somewhere out there that wants to kill me."
You are in a "Battle Zone" this needs to be at the top of your mind EVERY DAY. Treat the civilians fairly, it is THEIR country, they will respect you for that.
You seem like a really good person I pray to God that he keeps you out of harms way but he is going to need your help too.
Come home and give some thought to the Peace Corps. There are a lot of people in countries that could use and would welcome your help.
Keep on your toes.
Bob-E-K

Dear?
I hope you heed the words of Bob-E-K, even if they may sound a bit harsh to you:
"You need to get a grip, for your safety"
You have a kind heart, but keep your guard up, please.Remember you are defending the American right to free speech, including whining and griping etc. take care
Anne

As the Mom of a soldier due to be deployed to Iraq shortly after the 1st of the year, my heart goes out to you. Please know that I and my family thank you for your service and will never be able to repay you. Your compassion toward the people of Iraq and especially the children, is definitely a gift that you possess. Thanks again. Stay safe. I will be praying for you.

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