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.


November 28, 2006

Name: CAPT Matt Smenos
Posting date: 11/28/06
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Hometown: Santa Maria, CA

When Matt gets home...things are gonna happen.

When Matt gets’s gonna be great.

When Matt gets home...we’ll all be happy.

When Matt gets home, Matt’s kids are going to shout and imagine and play. They’ll hug their mom and tell her secrets. They’ll never let anyone tell them they’re not good enough.

When Matt gets home, Matt’s wife will forget the past, live in the now and see what a bright future lies in wait for her. When Matt gets home, he’ll go anywhere she goes. 

When Matt gets home, Matt’s mom will sit down, take a breather, have a cocktail (or five), have a laugh and enjoy herself and her success. Matt’s mom will stop and look at the palm-tree majesty and white-sand dreamland she has earned. She’ll realize everything is gonna be okay.

When Matt gets home, Matt’s dad will unfurl his sails, put on his sunglasses and ride the waves with his son. Matt’s dad will lean on his mast and crack a beer. He’ll sip it and survey the clear, blue majesty of his world, once only a dream expressed in trinkets and tacky wallpaper. Matt’s dad will be content to be a pirate a few hundred years too late. Matt’s dad will watch his sun set on the ocean.

When Matt gets home, Matt’s brother will keep doing what he’s doing. Matt’s brother will keep kicking ass, living his dreams and being Matt’s hero.

When Matt gets home, Matt’s friends will party like rock stars. From the wine tour to Megan’s floor they’ll be in celebration. They’ll smile, and invite each other to lunch and fight over the check. They’ll sneak out the turnstyle at 8:47 for coffee. They’ll decide, together, that this place has too many damned stairs and all take the elevator. They’ll be cool. They’ll realize that sometimes, just sometimes, every now and then, things truly happen for a reason, and a bunch of people in drab buildings become more than just individuals. They become full-color, moving pieces in a divine plan that helps a man get up in the morning. They’ll realize that some days just don’t start until he hears their voices. They’ll realize how unbelievable they are, and that no matter what happens, he’ll never forget them.

When Matt gets home, Matt’s co-workers will realize that the rockets will launch anyway, eventually. When Matt gets home, maybe they’ll clock out just a little bit early once in a while.

When Matt get’s’ll all finally happen.

Want Matt’s advice?

Don’t wait for Matt....


That's some very selfless advice... I imagine it's hard for your family and friends to follow it...

When Matt gets home...the world will stop for just a moment - and rightly so.

harsh, dude

Why is that harsh? His whole post was grand & his last statement was reality....LIVE!

This was so good I sent it on to the people I know aren't paying attention, they weren't waiting on Matt, but they should know that Matt and many like him are not shopping at Macy's or Target today. And our President in The Baltic isn't going to have anyone waiting to see if he will return, he even when to Vietnam and came back without wounds or anger, keep writing, Matt. I am not waiting but I am watching.

good luck

There is an incredible truth in this - we all tend at times to defer living for one reason or another, but your point is absolutely to the point - live life NOW! I really appreciated this particular line "They become full-color, moving pieces in a divine plan that helps a man get up in the morning." Thank-you for the reminders from Matt's life for all of us. Glod bless and keep you, Matt.

Wow.....just, wow. When I read that last line, I felt it in my toes. Truly beautiful.

Speaking as a military brat whose Dad did a couple of jungles, we waited - and we didn't. I am worried about you, man. You will get back.
And you will be surprised and you might not like it. We had to learn to NOT do what we knew how to do because we were girls and Daddy was back and it was HIS job. Life did go on while he was gone, we didn't cry and worry all the time, just here and there at odd moments through the day but we also played double dutch and learned to plane a door or check the connections in the TV and resolder the wires. We envied friends whose Dads had rotated home and about killed a girl who claimed to have chatted via ship-to-shore with her dad all the way to Hawaii on his redeployment and played war with nuns and hospitals and orphans and soldiers who always recovered but we also collected Tiger Beat centerfolds and played air guitar and began to see our bodies change from children to teens, something we couldn't unlearn when he came home.
They wait for you. But waiting isn't static. Just as you have been changed by being away, they have been changed by your being away.
Get back, brother. See what surprises await you. Keep smart, keep safe. Come home.

thank you for being there and doing what you are doing, and thank you for this great advice. come home safe and soon.

Coming from a soldier's mom ... those words are far easier to say than to do. The way we get through deployment is to wish he were here with us in everything we do ..from the mundane daily tasks to the holiday events approaching. Life here doesn't get put on hold - only because we don't know how to do that.

I agree it is important to live in the moment but when you have someone in Iraq those moments drag on forever. My brother just returned from a deployment and for the entire year he was there I wanted it to be me. I dreamed of bombs and explosions and phone calls telling me something happened to him. It's hard to live in a moment when the next you could get the worst phone call of your life. The only thing the families have is hope and faith. We look forward to the R&R visit or the call that says their loved one has a date of redeployment to the states. I lived a year in fear and in another year we will do it again. It's not that we forget the moments to live in, it's that we dread the next.

The war is brought home when a soldier speaks his or her truth. Thanks for your words. You and your comrades have been in my thoughts for 37 years and will be forever.

God bless you and thank you for this beautiful message. May you stay safe and sane - we all hope with all our hearts that all of you will come home soon to jump back in the stream of time. We are humbled by your sacrifices on our behalf.

Pat O'Malley's right -- waiting isn't static.

My advice is:do not loose hope and you will get home safely.
Wish you good luck Matt.

Its great advice, and take it from someone who is a single again mom, i was going to do things when the kids left home...then i got hit by an 18 wheeler and my life changed. I have managed to still do alot of the things i dreamed about, but i have had to give up alot of them as well, and find other avenues. My son just made it back to the states to Wa, after 15 months of deployment, it was a very long hard time, and fear was always present, because as a mom that would be there when called, i knew i was always on call. So after a few months when he first left, i was depressed, then i started making plans and going and doing and getting out and living, because he couldnt, i should! So yeah, i get what you are saying big time. NEVER put off what you want to do for anyone to get back, join you, because it may be too late if you do, and never happen.

I guess getting in a near death wreck makes you think, you have to live life for today, because there is no guarantee of tomorrow, i feel the war teaches the same leason to the ones that are in it, and i mean at home and there. WE are all in this, some dont just realise it yet.

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