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.

YOU DESERVE THIS |

February 29, 2008

YOU DESERVE THIS
Name: SPC Beaird
Posting date: 2/29/08
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog
: allexpensespaidafghanvacation             

A few weeks ago we had our monthly “town hall” meeting for our PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team), where our commander usually puts out new information, addresses any problems going on, rumors are put to rest (I swear the rumors that fly around here are worse than among a group of kids in junior high), and awards are often given out. There were quite a few awards this time, mainly from the events back in November when we caught and detained a few high value Taliban, and from a day when some faceless cowards tried to blow up one of the trucks in our convoy during a rotation at our outpost.

For the missions that resulted in capturing the group of bad guys, some of the leadership were given ARCOMs (Army Commendation Medals). For the IED ambush, all those who were there were given CIBs (Combat Infantryman Badges). For the infantry, the CIB is one of the most sought after badges. It shows you have been in the thick of things, being “under hostile fire”, and deserve a certain level of respect. The requirements were changed to include the IEDs used in today’s wars, although occasionally certain high-ranking fobbits un-deservingly write themselves in for a CAB (Combat Action Badge) for being a mile away from a mortar hitting on the complete opposite side of some base.

Framed_beaird_browning_cib_3 Every time we wear the CIB it represents the first time we saw contact. Fortunately for the group that received their CIB that day it will never be associated with any casualties or harm to our guys. Mine will always be tied to the day the war became real and we lost one of our strongest soldiers. I’d give it back in a heartbeat to erase what happened.

We had a dedication ceremony last week for the newly remodeled gym here on our FOB. It was dedicated to SSG Charles Browning of our platoon, who was killed in action June 1st of last year by an IED. After he died there were plans for renaming the gym in his honor, but we were waiting until we got some new equipment in and the gym could be remodeled and officially reopened under his name. The chaplain began the ceremony, and Browning’s squad leader, SSG P, who was in the convoy with us when Browning died, came up to speak. It was good to have this man speak, as he wasn’t able to give any words during the original memorial ceremony we had in June because he had escorted Browning’s body back to the U.S and was there for the funeral.

Framed_beaird_browning_ceremony_2 I have a lot of respect for SSG P, for being able to go up and talk in front of everybody about Browning and how great a friend, a soldier, and a leader he was. I don’t think I could have held it together for a speech like that. It’s bad enough to lose a fellow soldier while out on a mission, but SSG P was not only Browning’s squad leader, he was his best friend of 20 years.

They joined the Army together, were stationed together, went to Iraq on their previous deployment together, joined the Guard, and then for this deployment Browning volunteered when he heard his best friend would be going to Afghanistan. When asked why he had volunteered, Browning said it was because SSG P was going, and he had to be there to watch his back.  How many people can say they have had a friend like that?

SSG P said there’s not a day that goes by that he doesn’t think about June 1st in one way or another. (Me too.) But despite all of the horrors of that day, he never wants to forget it, because to forget it would mean to forget the sacrifice Browning made that day. Well said. It was a heartfelt ceremony, tough but good.

Browning had spent a lot of time in the gym while here. He was training for a marathon for when we get home this summer. That's one of the reasons for renaming the gym after him. Our platoon is planning to accomplish part of his goal by running in the Pat Tillman run when we get back, in his honor. The gym looks great and an awesome dedication plaque, hand-made by one of our soldiers, now hangs inside.

We miss you man, you deserve this. And much more.

Comments

Wow. What a beautiful post. And what a wonderful friend. Thank you for sharing.

I was very moved and touched by your story. Spring is on our doorstep here in New England. This year I will plant a memorial flower garden in my yard to honor our fallen. SSG will have a special place there with many others. God Bless Sgt P. God Bless you all. Thank You.

What a great way to remember a fallen comrade; a gym is a positive affirmation of life.
I struggle to remember my time in Viet Nam, because I, too, do not want to forget. Remember that when you get back and have those damned symptoms of PTSD, do not think yourself weak to seek help. Vet Centers are increasing in number and really help. The counselors do not make the memories go away, just help with coping.
Thanks for your service.

let's join our hands together to stop this kind of wrong doings. It may risk lives in the future if we just let them continue.

Really nice info! Is really good to know about this kind of problems. Many thanks for sharing.

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