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.

THIS IS THE END |

November 14, 2007

THIS IS THE END
Name: Combat Doc
Posting date: 11/14/07
Returned from: Iraq
Milblog url: http://candle_in_the_dark.blogspot.com

I have recently abandoned my blog to drift through cyberspace until Google goes out of business or Skynet takes control, and have received many e-mails and requests asking to both restart and answer why.

Well, here it is.

Back in 2004 when Colby Buzzell and I started our blogs it was for one thing and one thing only, to get out the news the alphabet networks were forgetting, omitting, or were just too scared to cover. The press came to ask why, and wondered how a bunch of nobody fuzz-butt mud-rolling shitbag soldiers were getting word out that they seemed to miss.

The whole milblog (hate that term) craze began with American Soldier, Boots on the Ground, Doc in the Box, Buzzell, me and A Star from Mosul. I sometimes wonder if twenty years from now some idealistic college student will hunt us down when we're all eating out of the KFC dumpsters we're living in so he/she can write a paper about how a bunch of rejects changed journalism. We were the first. Some were loud and boisterous, some made comments about politics, some just said what happened good or bad. We told though, and THEY didn't like some of the things we said.

I did interviews with Financial Times of London, NYT, Annenberg Review of Journalism, Washington Post, NPR including the This I Believe essay for Veteran's Day 2006, and a dozen others. Universities called about speaking at their respective schools, teachers and professors have written to say they use my blog to teach rhetoric to their students. Writers, politicians, and others of note have complimented my site and its content. Some have been nice enough to send me death threats. Nice to know I could incite someone to murder. Loved or hated but always remembered.

Well after we got back many wannabes wrote wondering how to get the success most of us had. That's when it turned into the whorehouse it is now.

Now don't get me wrong, there are good milblogs out there. Sadly though the ones getting the press generally aren't. Infantrymen by their own admission not having done a single mission. Medics in a hospital complaining about the internet going down, pogues saying they went outside the wire with no armor, guys talking about watching mortars land. Yeah, those mortars were landing on US while you watched. Welcome to the war, kid.

The press ate their sob stories up. Now every press blog is about basket-case soldiers. We all have issues and some more than others. That still doesn't communicate what it is to stand next to your Brothers ankle deep in shit, brass, and blood and kill those trying to kill you. That still doesn't tell you about how we all regret not going back. That still doesn't tell you about how we love each other enough to do it all again, even if our minds are going to be irreparable after that.

None of this is for God, country, apple pie, or "W". It is so some of you could understand some of us.

Those new blogs are guys who want a book deal and write in a way to get one. We're getting deals because of the truth we told.

Maybe someone can convince me otherwise but this all feels for naught now.

Thank You All for the last three and a half years.

Comments

As I read you post, it occurred to me that the reason for you quitting are the very reasons you should continue. Just because some dirtbags want to cash in on what you started doesn't justify not telling your story and giving your opinion. I hope you will reconsider, if for no other reason than to stick it right back in their faces.
Good luck and God bless!

As I read you post, it occurred to me that the reason for you quitting are the very reasons you should continue. Just because some dirtbags want to cash in on what you started doesn't justify not telling your story and giving your opinion. I hope you will reconsider, if for no other reason than to stick it right back in their faces.
Good luck and God bless!

Dear Doc, I too have been turned off by the blogs written, obviously for future excerpts in future books.
Don't stop. We are pretty dumb about this Iraq thing, but your messages keep us believing in you all. It's nice to see you back and keep your chin up. We all love you.

Hey Doc, I have to agree with both previous comments. I know there are many blogs out there wanting to get their 15 minutes of fame, and they know who they are. But there are several just trying to tell it like it is and you are the best of the best. I hope you will reconsider and continue to tell your story and share your opinions. Good luck!

Doc, it's true that the signal-to-noise ratio is a lot higher now that 'everyone' has a blog....

But that doesn't de-value what you and Buzzell did. You were on the bleeding edge (literally) of war blogging, and it's because of you guys that many of us at home were able to accurately calibrate our BS detectors when we heard the news from the Alphabet Networks.

Write if you want, and what you want. But know that anything you write will add value, because you're telling your truth. And it might do the rest of us some good to hear some truth about what it's like to be you after Iraq.... How can we know, unless someone tells us?

--Julie (Books for Soldiers )

Personally, I don't care much about the "why" soldiers write what they do. Even the whining gives insight to how the situation is for individual soldiers/units better the official intel does.

I can relate to the frustration and feelings that develop after being the first to do something and having what seems like the rest of the world jump on the band wagon for different reasons. An old quote I once read went "imitation is the highest form of flattery." True, there are some days when that isn't very helpful but you can't let things get you down. Somewhere out there someone is gaining usuable, practical insight from your experiences and what you write about...and I don't mean academically either. Some of the most important information I learned about deployments and how the military works was from the writings of veterans from Vietnam. Sadly many of the things they wrote about that needed fixing are still broken in the current day and age.

As far as pogues, I have not only seen but been one who spent the first nine months of my deployment with no inserts for my units flak vests and no armor on our semis. That is one complaint I will always view as legitimate. Fiberglass does little to slow down bullets, shrapnel, or IED blasts.

Keep writing, you never know who may be learning from your experiences and have their life saved by it someday.

I think you should make up your own mind and live your own life, and you will know what is wrong and what is right and do your best to make more right than wrong. Thanks for writing, even this letter is better fodder for this ol' fool than what I would find on the Main Streaming Media - you are a person, not some corporate enity. Do your best, those that care will know, always.

C'mon, man. I think most people with a sincere and active interest in what's going on can tell bullshit from blood and courage from con. We know how to scroll on by when we spot a self-cheerleader.
I beg you to reconsider. You're what's needed. You're uniquely qualified to provide it. I know it's very pretentious of me to say it, but... duty calls.

I'm a sailor, on an amphib ship that shuttles Marines to and from Iraq.

I had been thinking about putting an entry into Sandbox, but not as a form of flattery or venting. I just wanted to talk about a different, though less significant, side of the operations. We did not face an enemy, nor have any ships in the Persian Gulf faced enemy action since that British boarding team was captured months ago.
I know I will lose the "whose military career has bigger balls" game just about every time.

I had been wondering whether a person who is mere support, rather than a veteran of combat, had a right to speak about the military or the war. I guess you are saying that they do not.

blah blah woof woof.

If everyone would just be better Americhristians and stop complaining out our great holy war, things would be a lot better, imo.

Thanks for the time and effort you put into your writing... you helped bring us there and gave us more than a a glimmer of what was happening. I hope the telling
helped you too. Any time you wish to say more ... we are here

Last night I told my son to try blogging as others have found it therapeutic. Perhaps you might consider continuing for the same reason. As I type this I listening to Don Mclean sing Babylon. How funny.

Doc, you do sound like you need a break. You've been working hard doing three things (at least) at once, and that can wear down a soul something awful. You should do what you wish to do, not what we want. But do know that we want to hear you when you're ready to talk to us again.

Hey, you sound really stressed (keep blogging). I'm a Viet Nam vet. I sat mostly on Firebases with incoming and doing ambushes. I still have nightmares and anxiety. I avoided reading stuff about this war because of it, but no more. I'm training to be a PTSD/readjustment counselor and I gotta know. Keep telling your story.
And as far as this being a holy war, well, someone's not doing his homework. Thanks for your posts, past, present and hopefully future.

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