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.

IT'S NOT ALL BAD |

January 09, 2007

IT'S NOT ALL BAD
Name: Tadpole
Posting date: 1/9/07
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog url: armysailor.com

I have the day off, which is a nice change of pace seeing as I have not had any real 'down-time' in about three weeks. It amazes me how much pressure there still is, this close to the end. But in any case, I took some time today to sit and meditate and reflect on the positive aspects of this deployment, and I have realized that it really isn't all bad.Framedtadpolechapelpc054337

I have met some fascinating new people and made some terrific new friends. I have been mentored by some truly impressive NCOs. I have met people who I really hope to keep in touch with, and some I hope to never see again. I have met more Christians here than in my entire life up to now, many of whom seem to take the whole religion thing far too seriously in my opinion, but who are good people nonetheless. I have met some truly impressive reservists, and some truly unimpressive active duty guys, which has helped break down many stereotypes for me.

I have seen some amazing views. I have seen views of mountains and valleys that most people will never get to see. I have gotten to travel over every type of terrain imaginable, in almost every type of vehicle imaginable. I have lived scenes that most people will only see in movies. I have had experiences which have given me a new appreciation for life, and all that I have.

I have had the opportunity to truly help people. I have fed the hungry, clothed the cold, and help provide medical care for the sick, wounded and weary. What is amazing, though, is that I think each of these experiences has helped me more than it has helped them.Framedtadpole_ffighterinnpc064355_1

I have a whole new appreciation for the Navy! I now know beyond ANY shadow of a doubt, that I joined the right branch for me. The Army is WAY too politically correct and Christian for my taste, the Marines are WAY too serious, the Air Force is FAR too sensitive and squishy. The Navy is the way to go for a fella who likes drinkin', fightin', travelin' and chasin' women!

I will leave the country Financially, Physically and Spiritually more well off then I came. I will leave debt-free with a nice little savings. It's easy to save money when you have nothing to spend it on, even when you are helping family at home. Despite some serious hearing loss, and some scrapes and bruises, I am in better shape than I was when I came. Spending a lot of time in the gym, and walking around in full 'battle-rattle', will definitely keep you strong. Spiritually I have had a lot of time to read, think and meditate while I have been here. I have read much of the Qur'an and the Bible, and I have realized that I don't really buy into either. I have discovered that there is a name for my spiritual beliefs. I discovered that I am a Deist. I have deeply explored and read the teachings of the Dalai Lama, and I have discovered the true value of reason over blind faith. I have learned a new appreciation for my fellow man, and the value of striving to do no harm. I have learned the negative aspects of attachment, and have worked hard to free myself of them. I have discovered that fear, while natural, need not be debilitating. If handled correctly it can be empowering.Framedtadpolebasepc054336

I have also gained a new appreciation for my mother, who worked so long and so hard to make me the man I am today. And also for my first true mentor, HTCM(RET) Betterton, a man who met me when I was at a truly low point in my career. A man who I didn't know from Joseph, but who saw something in me. He managed to see enough in me that he took the risk of taking me under his wing. He taught me valuable lessons about leadership and life. He taught me how to pick my battles. He taught me many lessons to which I directly attribute my survival in this country.

So indeed, after much reflection, I have realized that I am taking away from this experience far more positive things than negative. If I had to choose whether or not I'd do it all over again, I can not honestly say yes -- after all, I miss my loved ones, good food, a warm body next to mine, and all the other comforts of life at home -- but I can't say no either. It would be a tough decision.

Comments


tadpole, just read your latest posting and am glad you are on the way home soon: Sorry about the hearing loss, but
mine has been trashed since my first tour in vietnam 1966. The gift of a grunt, comes in handy when you get married though..
take care - be safe.

I felt the same way about Afghanistan when I was there as well. Good for you to gain something positive from it.

An inspiring message, Tadpole. I've heard similar from others who have been to Afghanistan. And, now, a Deist. Like our founding fathers. Good for you.

I have never been in the military, although my husband served 6 years in the navy. I wanted to say "thank you". You sound like a thoughtful young person and I was intrigued by your post. Good luck and stay safe.

thanks for sharing, i'm glad you found the silver lining. take care of yourself, best of luck.

You make me proud to be an American. Thank you.

Tadpole,
Thanks for your thoughts and those wonderful pictures. I am so glad that you have made something positive of the experience. You are a true credit to us.

Tadpole, You are going home soon... That is wonderful! You have provided us with some great pictures, great posts, and interesting insight... Thanks for putting your time there in prospective and reaching a very positive conclusion, for you and for us... God be with you on your way home...

Sounds like quite an experience. Thanks for the report.

Can you clarify what you mean by "The Army is WAY too politically correct and Christian"?

Why would the Army be Christian? That strikes me as so very wrong. It should not be religious at all.

Like your use of "politically correct!" People think that inly applies to lefties, but not so much!

I wish the world could be full of people like you, there could be total everlasting peace.

Wishing you fair winds and following seas. Thanks for the posts.

It was nice to read your post. Given the opportunity, I would like to see the site where the Bamiyan Buddhas were blown up. I wonder if Taliban leaders understand that the absence of the statues speak as eloquently as their presence. Good luck!

Don't be too thankful yet. You may be on the way to Iraq. Also, be sure and thank all the people who helped you on the way to your decision.
Tell us how you feel when you are in the shooting gallery, courtesy of HMB and being used a target pratice.
Good luck!!

Of the three documents which were signed by Founding Fathers, there were 204 men who took pen in hand on one or more of these sacred documents. Of this number only 3, (Three) were Deist: of these only two who are well known - Jefferson and Ben Franklin. So not hardly "Deist,like the Founding Fathers" who were more than half of them Episcopalian and Presbyterian and the balance spread over another 6-8 smaller denominations including Roman Catholic.

Noted that your enjoyment was profound in the helping of others. I seem to recall reading of One who said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." I have experienced what you speak of and it is incredible.

Glad your tour is winding down and that you will soon be out of harm's way and home with family and friends. God bless.

Tadpole,
Great message! Thank you for sharing it.

Tadpole, thanks for the wonderful personal insight. It truly is nice to hear the postive influences of your tour, as I'm sure your loved ones are thankful. It's so difficult to have a loved one go on a tour and slowly seperate himself in so many ways. To gain one positive aspect is fantastic, so your have accomplished much! Good for you. Thanks for all the interesting read! Sounds like you have the right attitude to get you through. Life is just too short for anything else, so live, laugh, and love! Best of wishes.

This was a beautiful posting. Thank you for writing it.

I can't help but think of a Navy pilot I knew named Ken Umekubo who died a few years ago (much too young). Ken shared much of your positive spirit and felt deeply regarding his involvement in the first Gulf War. Your words show much of that same sense of openness to experience and excitement about the world I was lucky to see in him.

Good luck to you. Your experience of the world is exhilarating and inspiring to read about.

I was touched by your directness and insight. I,too,served in harm's way, in Vietnam. I would wish for you that you continue to grow and become the man that this small sample shows the potential of being. Pax.jim

When I was a young Navy wife, the saying went... "The Army does the fighting, the Marines get the credit, and the Sailors get the girls." mmmmmm... don't remember them saying anything about the Air Force.
Nothing like being away from everything familiar to put you in touch with God as you understand Him. Many of the WWII, Korea, and VietNam vets that I have known... still carry a special relationship with the God they found in battle.
I pray often for our military personnell... I do know that they are in harms way for MY benefit. Seems a small thing to do in return to ask God to look out for them.
Sylvia

I really got a lot out of what you wrote. Seeing as how you said you were a 'deist' I thought you might be interested in the UU faith. UU stands for Unitarian Universalism, and it is truly nondenominational in every aspect of the word. I can't believe I'm sittin here typin this cus it sounds like I'm trying to convert but I'm not..because it just sounds to me like it might fit in with what you ALREADY believe. I'm a UU too. here's a link if you want to know more. www.uua.org.

This is such a great resource about that you are providing and you give it away for free to educate the people about the issue. I love seeing websites that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free. Thanks for the awesome work on .

Nice, your article contains a great features. It was so wonderful.

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