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.

MERRY COLD CHRISTMAS! |

January 03, 2008

MERRY COLD CHRISTMAS!
Name: Eddie
Posting date: 1/3/08
Stationed in: Iraq
Milblog url: airborneparainf82.blogspot.com
Email: airborneparainf82@gmail.com

I figured that this Christmas, being that I was in Iraq, was not going to be the best of them, but it has turned out to be much worse than I expected. Our rotation worked out so that I would be here at the outpost, away from the comforts of the home FOB. I was OK with that. I was also OK with not having a good Christmas meal or anything. I was fine. I was also accepting of the fact that I would usher the transition from Christmas eve to Christmas in a guard tower, probably cold as hell. Again no problems there.

But it has been damn cold lately. If theres one thing that I cannot stand it is the cold. It's probably only dropping down into the upper 30s at night, but after going through a 120+ degree summer, that's a huge temperature difference. Add to that the fact that my squad's been manning guard positions during the coldest part of the night. It probably wouldn't be all that bad if it weren't for the simple fact that the Army is great about not allowing you to be warm, despite the fact that they issue you all these different types of cold weather gear. But God forbid that you try and keep warm, you know?!?

Framed_eddie_coldchristmas Well, we've managed to make use of what items we are allowed to wear and I guess it hasn't been that bad. About a month ago I ordered some skintight winter Underarmor pants and shirt, which are great for keeping you warm. Plus I wear a thick cotton shirt under my uniform. I've got my gloves, and a fleece cap that I wear under my helmet, and late at night I use my poncho liner blanket, and half-ass wrap up in an attempt to keep warm. Our guard towers have these AC/heater units in there, and the last time we were here they were functional. But somehow in the last two weeks, while we were gone, they all ended up breaking. Fabulous. Also, within the places we stay at the outpost it is cold as shit. But it has been made clear that we must maintain the "standard" appearance, so no wearing jackets around, or the fleece cap when not on guard. How retarded! There's hardly anyone here of any significance, and for Christ's sake, we're living out in the middle of Baghdad. Is this really necessary?

Enough of my bitching and complaining about the cold. Back to Christmas. We started off on guard, cold, but time passed and finally we were done. Immediately afterward our squad drew names for Secret Santa. We'd all bought gifts in the $10 to $20 range, and drew random names and got whatever gift that person had bought. Following that we had our "Christmas Dinner" which conisted of smoked sausage and pepperoni with some cheese and crackers. It actually wasn't too bad. Following that several of us lit up cigars and celebrated the day of Christ's birth. It wasn't turning out to be all that bad of a Christmas, until we found out that they were planning on having another platoon relieve us for a bit so we could travel to a nearby base and get some real Christmas dinner.

This doesn't sound like a bad idea, right? Well you have to figure all the time of getting everything ready, getting the handover going, heading out, getting back, blah blah blah. Nobody in our entire platoon wanted to do this, but we were being forced. How joyful! To make it even better for us, the time we were going to be heading out was smack dab in the middle of my squad's sleep time. Awesome. Now we are giving up sleep to do something that we don't even want to do in the first place.

Well, seeing as we had no choice, we were woken up, got ready, and then headed out. Once we got there we received a speech that basically stated the time that we had, and that everyone was being forced to go in to the chow hall, grab a plate of food, sit down and eat it and enjoy it and be Merry. Wow. I'm now being ordered to have a Merry Christmas in a manner in which I don't even want to. And they wonder why a 26 year old who doesn't like to have his life run like he's twelve doesn't want to re-enlist. HA!

The food was actually pretty good, but all we could think about was how we didn't want to be doing this in the first place. Oh well, it's the Army. What can you do? Leave it up to them to take something and ruin it. Well, that's about all that I have for now. Hope everyone back home has had a good Christmas, or whatever you celebrate!

Comments

Bummer, dude. Is there a draft in place, or did y'all sign up for this sh$t? Happy New Year and get out while you still can!
xoxo

Christmas was good here, except my son was away on the other side of the Pacific and his wife in Hawaii with her folks and friends. I always loved real wool blankets for winter warmth on guard posts and security positions, but that was long ago and far away and your equipment is mostly chemically bonded not organic at all. Yeah, eat that hot turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes with pumpkin pie and KoolWhip topping, it is Christmas and you will only be missing sleep and far from sanity and such. But we did think of you and make sure you got a good meal. Well, I didn't personally, but those NCOs and Officers had better take care of you because they work for me... John Q. American citizen quite ordinary but dangerous in my dreams. Have a good one, and many more and better Christmas celebrations in your future, All the Way! Trooper.

What a Christmas story, being deprived of sleep so you can have a dinner! Yup, that's the Army all over. The more things change, the more they remain the same. It'll be funny in 30 years.

Hi Eddie! Sounds like ole Buffalo to me. Two seasons. Winter and the 4th of July! The reason I'm in California now! I like to hear your gripes. It sounds like you have it down to a science. Just remember this winter when it comes time to reenlist. I also like your opinion of the food. I'll bet you are a pizza junkie! Keep your toes warm and it will be spring soon!

Mandatory Fun Time and Fascist Uniform Control!!!! That's why we vote with our feet when the ETS date comes around. Remember in Iraq, everyone above a 1LT has nothing to do but think of uniform policies while the rest of us do the real work.

Hey Eddie -- Know where you're coming from, buddy. Spent 30 years in Minnesota with summers at 100 degrees (relative humidity at 98%) and misquitos the size of small birds. And the winters? 40 below without the effect of wind chill. Yeah, layering is the key! I hope you realize that there are manyof us who appreciate what you are doing for all of us and consider you and your buddies as heros in every sense of the word. May your New Year be warmer, but not too warm, and bring you your hearts desire. Thanks.

I guess some things never change. After my dad died this past spring we found some of his diaries from WWII (Europe). All the basics are the same. Cold, away from home, bad food, dumb rules and dumber orders. I'm pretty sure Roman foot soldiers bitched about the same things.

I find it very amusing that the army thought eating a "real" Christmas Dinner was more important than sleeping. And did they really tell you to be Merry? Thats a laugh...freezing, then being forced to celebrate. Im sorry your Christmas was like that. but just think to when you CAN celebrate how you want to. What a relief that will be!

What a story... that just sounds so frustrating. I once spent Christmas in a foreign country (though certainly not under the kinds of conditions you described), and I remember the feelings of loneliness because I was separated from my family. Not fun.

Well, hopefully you're either back home this year, or else you have a better holiday. And most importantly, THANK YOU for your service! Everyone here in the U.S. owes you a debt of gratitude. God bless.

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