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.


June 22, 2007

Name: Teflon Don
Posting date: 6/22/07
Stationed in: Ramadi, Iraq
Milblog url:

We took another trip up into Karma tonight. We patrolled up through the town and cut east, out through the area in which coalition forces recently took a bite out of al-Qaeda's anti-aircraft capability. A bomb crater nearly blocked the road in one spot, another was visible a short distance off the road. We spent four or five hours heading out to our turnaround spot, with dark clouds menacing their showers over the entire trip. Rainstorms are refreshing once in a while, but they also mean more work, drying and cleaning ammunition and weapons.

The clouds finally broke as we were driving back out of Karma. Rain drummed fitfully on the roof -- just enough to obscure the road, but never quite enough to require the wipers full time. Lightning shot blue fire across the sky. Somewhere to the south, a bolt of lightning hit the power grid, and the horizon lit up with the turquoise strobes of exploding transformers. Distant lights began to wink out and disappear. The oncoming tide of blackness washed ever closer as transformers continued to light up the sky. The blue light was joined by the steadily flashing golden pink glow of a downed power line. As we continued to roll towards Camp Falluja, we passed the power line, still sparking and glowing on top of a concertina fence. The air smelled sharply of ozone -- it also smelled cleaner than it has in weeks.

The rain lead to the first pang of homesickness I've felt in a while. After we got back, I walked out under the netting that covers the entryway to my buddy's tent. The netting is a fine, sand-colored mesh that block the sun. It also breaks up the rain into a fine mist, and gathers it into large droplets that break and fall occasionally from the net. I stood underneath it with my eyes closed, smelling the suddenly fresh air, and thinking of the rain in the forests on the coast, so similar, yet thousands of miles away.

Just a few more months now.


Let's all hope for a safe and timely concern.

Your writing is so good, so real. I felt like I was right there with you, tasting the raindrops. I pray for your safety and early return home.

It rains nearly every time I camp. Your writing made me think of standing in a summer rain with the raindrops making their little pock-pock noises as they hit the tents and slide to the humus earth, of the smell of damp trees and canvas, and of sound in the woods deadened by the rain but for the quiet sensation of billions of tiny drops hitting leaves, branches, and ground. The great English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote of man's impact on his environment, but ended it with this: "But for all this nature is never spent. There lives the dearest freshness deep down things. And though the last light over the black West went, ah, morning at brownbrink eastward springs, because the Holy Ghost over the world broods with warm breast and with ah, bright wings."

Dear Teflon,

That is good writing. (I am a high school English teacher and I appreciate good writing.) Please keep it up.

-- KP

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