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.


December 22, 2006

Author: SPC Ian Wolfe
Posting date: 12/22/06
Stationed in: Iraq
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Email: iwolfe11@msn.comFramed_wolfe_tree_4

Since the rainy season started I have discovered that there are several different kinds of mud. At first I thought "How bad could it be?"  Now I know. The worst mud is the thick mud; it can add up to three inches to your height. This is good for most, but I am already too tall for anywhere but America. This mud is especially thick when rocks and gravel mix into it. When I arrived here at the end of the last rainy season, I wondered what all the ravines were for. They can barely carry all the water that comes down. They would make nice swimming holes if the water didn't look like it's chock full of all sorts of nasty bacteria. I am in the medical corp, which may explain my bacteria fear. The one upside of this thick mud is that sometimes a mission gets cancelled because it is too muddy to get to our destination village. Although I do enjoy the missions, it is nice to have a relaxing day.

The second kind of mud has been dubbed by some "chocolate mousse". It is the filmy, and yes, chocolate-looking mud. It sits on top of the dirt, and is not quite as irritating as the thick kind. The main problem is that there are very few places to walk here that aren't either muddy or flooded with water. When you walk, it splashes up on your pants. It also splashes all over as vehicles drive by. I end up stripping in my doorway before I go inside.

The third type is the frozen mud. I enjoy its crispness in the early morning. It is nice to walk on hard ground that doesn't collect on your shoes. The only downside is that it can be surprisingly slick. But I think It is the closest thing to snow we will get this Christmas. 

Despite being away from home and doing a job that we all wish was not a necessary one, Christmas will not be too bad. Most of us realize that we made the decision to do something when no one else would, and have made this sacrifice for the good of others. The people back home have recognized this and been great. I have never seen so much mail in my life. I think almost everyone in my group has a tree in their living place. American companies and families have been sending us tons of stuff to make our holiday season as good as it can be. We almost have too much. It gets passed around and shared with the entire base, and with the Romanian and Australian soldiers who are here with us.

Despite all the mud, danger, and being away from home, it will be a memorable holiday season. I am fortunate to be with the people I am serving with, and also to have so many people supporting us back home. Thanks to all the people who have sent their wishes, prayers, support, and packages. Maybe the mud will turn to snow.


I wish you a Merry Christmas. My dearest wish is for peace on earth and goodwill to all men (and women) especially deployed soldiers.

Muddy Christmas!! Are you sure there are only three types of mud? Great story. Be safe, and best wishes for a Happy and Safe New Year!

May you have merry if muddy Christmas, and a safe one too. It is nice to hear you speak of the Australian soldiers there, we get virtually no news of their activites back home, and though I have looked for milblogs like this from diggers I can't find any. Please wish them all the best from Australia, too.

You didn't add that that 3 inches of mud adds 4 or 5 pounds to the weight of each foot - at 76 I still remember. Be safe.

Merry Muddy Christmas to you and Happy Safe New Year, too! Please share that with the entire base. Which is worse: mud or sand? What a deal, to have to worry about bullets, bombs and bacteria. Be safe. Be well. Come home. Merry Christmas.

Scrape the mud off and get home ASAP!

Merry Christmas!

Your Dad in Minnesota

It is Christmas Day and Kelly, your dad and Kam & I are at Marty's talking about past Christmases. We look forward to celebrating with you & Emily next year. Just please leave the mud in Iraq. Thank you. Merry Christmas Ian! Love you.

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