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.


March 24, 2008

Name: Charles
Posting date: 3/24/08
Stationed in
: Camp Taji, Iraq
Hometown: Quinton, VA

I would have to say that Iraq is the dirtiest place I have ever seen, or hope to see. When one thinks about the Middle East it is sand that comes to mind, not dirt. But oh boy, do we have dirt. Dirt on the ground, dirt on every single object,Framed_bowery_dirt_air_1_15 indoors and out, and the bane of my existence as a helicopter pilot, dirt in the air! Kuwait has its dust storms, and Iraq even has dust storms, evil conflagrations of Kool Aid-orange whirling dust. But here in the northern outskirts of Baghdad, we live in a world of suspended dirt; walls of dirt that reduce visibility to a half mile or less for days at a time and ground our aircraft. One has to wonder what the long term health effects might be of breathing in all this dirt.

And when the rains come here at Taji, we get mud. Mud like you've never seen before. The powdery dirt on the ground becomes a glutinous, slippery mass that covers everything, as far as the eye can see. It takes days to dry, and makes everyone a few inches taller and a few pounds heavier as they walk around.

When I go back to the land of grass and trees, I won't miss the dirt.


I have to agree. The dirt is miserable. It seems especially prevalent on the FOBS. You can't discount the beauty of the North Eastern Zagros Mountains or the breadbasket corn stalks and wheat fields of the north central plains of Kirkuk/Mosul. Even the palm groves of the Tigris has it's own special beauty.

You are absolutely right. On my OIF II deployment, I did a lot of flying in the northern part of the country, and there are some scenes of incredible beauty up there- in the springtime, it reminds you of parts of Ireland. Rushing rivers, snowcapped mountains, the whole bit. Around the Tigris there are some areas that give you a sense of why people believe this was the source of stories about the Garden of Eden.

often think in these countries as arid and dry without peace, but really rich in minerals and the famous gold black that comes from there, some day I'll go to Iraq.

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