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.


October 04, 2007

Name: CAPT Doug Traversa
Posting date: 10/5/07
Returned from: Kabul, Afghanistan
: Tullahoma, TN
Milblog url:

Now that I have had a few months to wrap my brain around life back here in the states, I can tackle some projects I’ve been putting off. Many months ago the Sandbox Duty Officer, David, asked me for some photo stories, since he knows I’m always taking pictures. He suggested I do one on my construction projects in our B-hut -- the B-hut being the plywood home for so many troops in Afghanistan. It was a great idea, and I’ve been meaning to do it for months, but it always managed to sneak back down to the bottom of my to-do list. No longer!

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you already know what a B-hut (or hooch) is, but for the newbies, I have all the gruesome details. Without actually having measured a hut (and having lived in one for a year, I am amazed I never did), I estimate it is 20’ by 40’, made entirely of plywood, with a metal roof, and insulation if you are lucky.

B-Hut Guts

These delightful accommodations house between six and ten people, though that number can double for short durations when troops are coming in or passing through. The huts are arrayed in tight rows, often a mere five feet apart from one another on the sides, a bit more on the ends where the doors are.


Row of huts

However, these huts can be modified by adding plywood walls, plywood furniture, plywood shelves, and pretty much anything else you can make from plywood. Here’s a photo of my area when I arrived at Camp Phoenix.

Framed_traversa_hut_3 Room Before Construction

At the head of my bed you can see one wall has already been constructed, so my space was clearly defined. Now I had a year to convert this into my personal palace. Join me, won’t you, as I demonstrate how to convert a B-hut into a mansion.

As you can see, I had one set of selves with a “closet” where I could hang a very few items. I also had a bunk bed without the top bunk. This may seem unimportant, but the top bunk is a major storage area. Without one, I was essentially missing a closet. Still, this was home, and I would have to make the best of it.

Camp Phoenix had an excellent self-help workshop. We could check out tools, and acquire plywood and 2 x 4s at no cost. So on my first day off, I started hauling tools and wood to my hut for the big construction project.  Step one was to build my wall. 


A simple frame of 2 x 4s was constructed, and then two large pieces of plywood finished off the wall. Inside, I built a very simple desk, really nothing more than a piece of plywood on top of two plastic shelf sets from the PX. Here you can see the room right after construction. Yes, we had AFN TV and internet, so compared to many, our lives were very good indeed. 


Of course, things were still pretty barren, and it wasn’t long before I gutted a calendar to provide some interior decoration. Pardon the mess on the bed; I had just opened a care package.

Wall decorations

Things remained this way for a couple of months, and then I got my hands on the upper bunk for my bed. Naturally I had to build a set of shelves for my new storage area.


Since we didn’t have doors for our little rooms, I installed a rod and made a sliding “door” from an Afghan bedspread I bought at the bazaar.


I also had my wife mail large storage hooks, and as you can see, had a wall full of weaponry and body armor.



I figure ten photos is probably my limit, so here I am enjoying my little piece of paradise. Oh, did I mention our hut got really cold in the winter? That explains my unconventional outfit. 


Tune in next time when I discuss wall art on “This Old B-Hut.” Thanks for watching.


For some reason I had always assumed the hut had been this way when you moved in. No wonder there was so much competition for your "home" when you left.

I love the bunk shelf!

Although I don't think I could live in a place so small (well, you do what you have to do).

Love what you did with the place. None of the places I lived in OEF had a self help center, nor was I there long enought to do anything so I always hoped I get they place of someone like you. Whoever got your place should have to send you rent or royalties!
Welcome Home
Training For Eternity

I'm impressed by the effort you put in. I can only imagine what you must get up to when your actual, real home is involved!

Honestly, though, for me the real icing on the cake -- the part that really makes it all sing -- is the calendar with the funny little dogs on it. It made me smile.

Thank you for sharing. This is exactly the kind of portrait from the front lines I expected to find in The Sandbox.

The banality of where to store your crap and personalizing your space are easy to relate to; it helps us non-soldier types identify.

Excellent job, both in construction, and in documentation. I use this page to explain my situation here in Bagram, to friends & family.

I do one on my engineering assignments. The plyboard house for so many soldiers in Afghanistan. It was a strategy, and I have been indicating to do it for weeks, but it always maintained to put again down to the end of my to do listing.

Excellent job, both in construction, and in documentation. I use this page to explain my situation here in Bagram, to friends & family.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference THIS OLD HUT :

« Previous Article | Main | Next Article »

Search Doonesbury Sandbox Blog



My Photo