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.


December 25, 2007

Name: The Usual Suspect
Posting date: 12/25/07
Stationed in: Iraq
Milblog url:

I go to the shoddy movie theater to see some MP girl play her guitar and sing. And she's good, really good. But they plugged in a Christmas tree, off to the side of the stage, and it's a complete distraction.

I shift in my seat and furrow my eyebrows in slight confusion. What's the sense in this? Poor excuse for concert lights, and besides, what is a Christmas Tree doing here anyway? Oh wait, it's December? Well gollll-lllly! Who'da thunk it? I mean, ya coulda fooled me, bub, what with the absence of snow on the ground, with everything looking exactly the same as it always does, except not with the thermostat set to "Kenya". You shittin me, Powers That Be? You telling me that it's that Holiday Season again?

Nah, I don't buy it. There's people running around out there with suicide vests hiding weapons and planting bombs and shaking our hands and terrorizing their neighbors and threatening everyone all to create their ideal of what the country should be, and there's no snow. No one's wearing those hideous sweaters or wrapping expensive shit to give to each other.

Can't be, cuz here I am, at [X location] conducting [X mission] just last [X date] and I'm being called a Bleeding Heart for treating the locals with respect, because you see, this was the situation:

[Entry deleted, as per what may fall under OPSEC restrictions. When in doubt, cut that shit out, right?]

So yeah, it is kind of strange, I know, but the truth is that I'm actually a pretty compassionate person and I treat people the way I'd want to be treated. I just like to see a semblance of humanity now and then, and when you can cross a cultural barrier and connect with people even briefly, it's quite cool, and who knows, maybe these little things help us out, even if only a little. So yeah, I'll be the bleeding heart. For the common people? Yeah. I'll act the way I was raised.

But hold on, Powers That Be, you didn't completely sidetrack me here, I still wanna know: What gives? This is the month of all things Holy as well as Commercial? I'm standing out of the hatch as we drive by, and I'm waving to these kids, but they don't look like they're getting ready for Christmas.

Sorry bud, I don't buy it. I didn't acknowledge that last birthday, why would I acknowledge this poor attempt at celebrating a holiday that's all about being with your family? Sorry, but your fake plastic tree isn't going to make us feel like we're not in a war torn country a million miles away. For those who still want to acknowledge their holidays, I say go for it. But me personally? Just another day.

"What'd you do for your birthday?"


"What did you do on Thanksgiving?"

"Tower guard."

"Did you get bombed on New Years?"

"Bombed as in drunk or bombed as in shit exploded?"

OK OK, you get it now. I'm not going to acknowledge the army's attempt at making the holidays seem....existent. So you ask yourself, "Damn man, you all right?"

The answer is a resounding yes. I'm still in this limbo and I've got my health. I've accepted everything that's happened so far and I accept that this is not the war I thought I signed up for. I've come to an understanding with The Force that's orchestrating this chicken-clusterfuck. Just slide on. You keep things simple for me, I keep things simple too, keep on trucking all Happy Go Lucky-like. Not too much to ask for.

They say violence is down XX% thanks to the Troop Surge. That's us, we're The Surge. We boarded planes and poured into all orifices of this country and impregnated it with a little more "order" and the Bad Guys don't have as much room to breathe and the "ball" is in their "court" and I'm still in limbo.

Keep it simple, and I will too: Take a knee, pull security, drink water, drive on. Scan the road, scan the rooftops, scan the windows, scan the alleys, scan it all. Bustling Third World life. And after all, why not? It's just time.

The absolute truth, if you must know it, is that we're preparing for a secret operation, large scale. Our whole brigade, in fact. Very hush hush. Y'see, in a handful of months, a rather big handful of months, we're going to get all of our shit together, and stealthily board planes. We're invading the United States. Taking Fort Lewis first.

I've outlined a plan with my hand-picked squad. Our first objective is to secure a patrol base in the new barracks. Simple. Immediately afterwards, we leave a security element in place and we mount up and drive to our next objective. Dismount at the Class 6 liquor store for a supply run. A major one.

We'll then return to said patrol base and secure it with loud music to frighten away lesser enemies, and we'll consume copious amounts of liquor to fortify our own courage, should anyone attack us. It shall be a triumphant and intoxicated last stand before we're expected to function in this strange new world.

Possible reconnaissance locations include Fox's Gentlemen's Club, depending on morale. More to follow.


Bravo! Absolutely good and true shit spoken here. For all intents and purposes there have never been any holidays during a war. Not even in 1914 when the much touted "Christmas truce" occurred. Certainly not 63 years ago in the Ardennes when my Dad tried to keep his men warm and together after they had pulled back from the Vielsalm/St. Vith pocket. And not 39 years ago when I was outside the wire on Christmas Eve on Charlie Mtn. in Quang Nam.

Stay safe and make it home to Ft. Lewis for the final invasion.

Now that's the type of truth in reporting I wish the American media would tell us about. Love the invasion plan, let me know if you need any indigenous contacts to help with it.

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Sounds like a plan. Two items;
a. Please allow local PGR members (me, and/or, us) to escort your homecoming.

b. FOX's? Uhmm, ah, never heard of the place. Just outside the base, towards Tacoma? Nope, never heard of it. . . married man.

Frankly, yours' seems to be the most rational, survivable approach to shit-on-a-stick existentialism. It really sucks when being a liberal means you don't shoot them twice.

Hey, show the love, spread the joy. Or, just say 'fuck it' and just live through it.

just wanted to let you know that there is a beautiful video and song written and performed by Harold Perrineau, or the TV show Lost. It is called Stay Strong, and you can watch the video on Youtube, or you can buy the song on iTunes. It is a thank you to the troops and a portion of the proceeds are going to benefit the Bob Woodruff Family Fund for returning soldiers with injury. It is so moving, and a great song.

Dear Usual Suspect, I knew it was you when I noticed the time of your entry. 4:04 a.m. Who else would be using their computer except you
instead of sleeping it off! We will run interference for your invasion. Let us know D-day and time. We will party on..........

Great post. That is the Army that I remember from my VietNam tour. Go & get your job done, look out for your buddies & count the days untill you get to go Home.
It was obvious there was no intension of winning that war. It seams the mission of the GWOT is to see how much money we can make for the "contractors".
I know none of us were heros then. We came home & joined the American Legion to have someone to talk to about all the fun things we seen.
Now our duty is to see that the VA budget has proper funds to deal with the returning troops.
Good luck with your invasion. Please check with your local American Legion Post on your return. They can help make you return an invasion! We had to sneak in and hope no one noticed.

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