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.

THE TRUE COST |

May 11, 2007

THE TRUE COST
Name: Eddie
Posting date: 5/11/07
Stationed in: Baghdad, Iraq
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Milblog url: airborneparainf82.blogspot.com
Email: [email protected]

A few days ago I was sitting in here on the computer getting ready to post some stupid blog about how boring life is now, when they came in and told me we were under communications blackout and I had to get off. Those of you who have been deployed know what this is.
Our base goes under a comm blackout when someone from the base has died and the military wants to make sure they are the ones to contact the family of the deceased before word gets out from soldiers via the internet or phones.

I remember feeling bad at the time because I hate to have to hear about soldiers dying here, and when there's a comm blackout it really hits close to home. This base I stay at is not very big, so there are not that many soldiers here. When one of them dies, it really lets you know how real things are.

After I left the internet I went back to my room. I hadn't been there more than 20 minutes when they came in and told everyone in my platoon to get our stuff on and get the trucks ready because we were heading out NOW! We weren't supposed to head out until the next morning, so we all started wondering what was going on, but no one knew. We had our assumptions though, that something was going down or had gone down with some unit in our battallion. We got our stuff ready, and shortly after getting the trucks loaded up we were all told to go back inside. Okay, well maybe we're going to be told to stand down. My entire platoon gathered in this one room.

Then guys from the other platoons in my company started coming in and we found out that our First Sergeant wanted to speak with us all. OMG! The room was silent, because we all knew what he wanted to say.

After a few minutes our First Sergeant came in and shut the door. He wore a terrible expression on his face. We all knew what was coming, just wondering who. And sure enough the words came from his mouth:

"I just wanted to put out to you guys before the rumors got started. Today SGT Tollett was out with the CO and was shot in the head. He didn't make it."

The room became a dungeon of fear, anger, sorrow and pain. I couldn't believe what I had just heard. I had just seen him right before he had left and had talked with him briefly. How? Why could this have happened? What happened? So many questions, but the same end result. One of our fellow soldiers, a brother in arms, and a friend, lost his life. We weren't particularly close, but I had come to be friends with him during this deployment. I know people have nothing but good things to say about people after their death, but this man truly was a great man. He was loved by everyone in the company, and I truly mean that from the depths of my soul.

This really put things into persepective. There wasn't much that could have been done in the situation to have prevented this. It was a lucky stray round that found him and hit in a lethal spot. It could have been anyone else. That's the sad thing about war. There's never knowing who or when or what or how. It simply comes down to if it's your time or not. And even though we all came over here knowing that this is war, and that this is a real possibility here, it still caught everyone off guard. Until that day no one from our unit had been killed. I'm sure others as well as I held onto that slight hope that all of us would somehow make it home from this place. Maybe I was naive to believe this, but we all now know the true cost, and it's not something that can be measured in dollars, or planes, or time.

All I know now is that there is a score to be settled. This has become more personal that it ever was, and I feel sorry for the future SOBs that cross our path.

                                          SGT Noman Lane Tollett
                                       6 May 1976 - 28 April 2007

                          Framed_eddie_tollet_3
In memory of SGT Tollett: You will never be forgotten and will always have a place with us. Watch down from heaven and be proud of your boys, as we are proud of you and your sacrifice.

Comments

Eddie,
I'm keeping all of you in my thoughts.

Let them in, Peter
They are very tired
Give them couches where the angels sleep
And light those fires

Let them wake whole again
To brand new dawns
Fired with the sun, not wartime's
bloody guns

Make their peace be deep
Remember where the broken bodies lie
God knows how young they were
To have to die

Give them things they like
Let them make some noise
Give roadside bands, not golden harps
To these our boys

And let them love, Peter
'Cause they had no time
They should have trees and bird songs
And hills to climb

The taste of summer in a ripened pear
And girls sweet as meadow wind
With flowing hair

And tell them how they are missed
And say not to fear
It's gonna be allright
With us down here

...John Gorka...
(This poem was found in a hospital in the Philippines
during WWII and made into a song by John Gorka.
The nurse who found the poem kept it all these years,
and it was her daughter who sent a copy to John.)

Eddie,
Very sad-sympathy to you and your co.

Rest in Peace, SGT Tollett. Knowing you did your duty, and that there are people here who respect you and your fellow soldiers for their sacrifice.

Thanks and God bless...

"All I know now is that there is a score to be settled. This has become more personal that it ever was, and I feel sorry for the future SOBs that cross our path."

Chilling, very chilling. I understand your rage and your pain, but please, make sure the payback you seek is taken from the right people and not those who happen to be in the way. And don't let your desire for revenge take your soul. It was very sad to hear of the loss of this young soldier. I think his family might take solace in knowing how truly admired and loved he was. You've done them a great service by acknowledging the magnitude of the loss of their loved one.

My thoughts are with the friends and family of Sgt Tollett. May the find some comfort for their sorrows.

Thank you for showing us your friend.

How many do you have to kill to bring him back? Five, ten, a hundred? It will not matter. You just cause more misery and you will have to live with what you do forever. I learned this 35 years ago.

My heart goes out to you. I am a nurse who goes to work every day with a team I love. We have each other's back (meaning we keep each other from making mistakes, and lift the other end of the pull pad) - I received a call the first week in May from my teammate that one of us didn't make it to work that day because she crashed her car and died. I was so glad I kissed her goodbye the last time we worked together but sudden death can strike anywhere any time - it doesn't make it any less sad it just doesn't provoke anger and desire for revenge. Don't drink poison and expect your enemy to die - love and watch out for eachother's backs and come home safe. My son is in the Airforce. love.

I think I am out of tears, my eldest son is home from the Army, alive, if broken---my youngest is in AIT now. I want you all to know, I remember those you lose daily...I walk the names into the memorial we built for them: the Walk of the Fallen. While I am against the war, no partizanship intrudes upon those stones---only respect and grief for the fallen. Stay safe as possible, know you are all loved by this Veteran, Veteran's wife and Veteran's mother.

Accept my most sincere sympathy in the loss of your friend, SGT Tollett. I extend my condolences as well to SGT Tollett's family and other friends both in Iraq and at home. He will ever be remembered by his grateful nation.

Eddie - 39 years ago this summer, I was in the same place you are now . . . angry and full of rage over the loss of 19 of my friends and fellow soldiers in one day. I was ready to go into the next ville we went into and kill everything and everyone I saw, and would have too had not saner minds and hands kept me in check. In retrospect, it would not have mattered how many of "them" I would have killed, nothing would have brought back the men we lost. Remember Sgt. Tollett for what he was: a brave young man who was your friend. For you, he will be forever young.

Stay safe.

Eddie... I know you are grieving, angry and probably scared because now it could happen to anyone in your unit... Please take all that negative energy and put it towards prayer, appreciating life with a fervor or anyplace positive... Revenge is not the answer... God will take care of that... You just take care of yourself and the rest of your unit... God be with you Eddie and my prayers go out to the family and friends of our fallen soldier Sgt. Tollett...

As our country is in a state of war and our soldiers trudge the dangerous depths of unknown territory, the citizens remaining at home are depraved of knowing the perils endured by our soldiers. The passion captured in your cadence combined with genuine renditions of your experience offer a tiny glimpse into your world. I am grateful for your service, and I hold all of you within my thoughts and prayers. The uncertainty and emptiness of comm blackouts and the daunting unwelcome news from your First Sergeant gave me the chills, while also reminding me of the sacrifice each soldier makes. Though I can not fully relate to your feelings, since I have never placed myself in harms way and risked my life to fight for my country, I can grieve for you and our fallen soldiers. I was touched when you said, “And even though we all came over here knowing that this is war, and that this is a real possibility here, it still caught everyone off guard.” Many of us are attuned to the realities of life, yet are unprepared when they take occurrence. Stay strong in spirit, stay safe.

As our country is in a state of war and our soldiers trudge the dangerous depths of unknown territory, the citizens remaining at home are depraved of knowing the perils endured by our soldiers. The passion captured in your cadence combined with genuine renditions of your experience offer a tiny glimpse into your world. I am grateful for your service, and I hold all of you within my thoughts and prayers. The uncertainty and emptiness of comm blackouts and the daunting unwelcome news from your First Sergeant gave me the chills, while also reminding me of the sacrifice each soldier makes. Though I can not fully relate to your feelings, since I have never placed myself in harms way and risked my life to fight for my country, I can grieve for you and our fallen soldiers. I was touched when you said, “And even though we all came over here knowing that this is war, and that this is a real possibility here, it still caught everyone off guard.” Many of us are attuned to the realities of life, yet are unprepared when they take occurrence. Stay strong in spirit, stay safe.

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