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.

FAMILY |

May 08, 2008

FAMILY
Name: Mike T.
Posting date: 5/7/08
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog url: c/o bouhammer.com

I can remember the faint sound as the door to my house closed behind me. One foot in front of the other I walked down the sidewalk to the truck and felt what seems to be forever ago the breeze upon my face. No sooner did that door close than I was boarding a flight to the unknown, to a combat zone.

Words can only partially describe the feelings that raced through my veins to my heart, to my soul. Everything that I have known and loved was left behind that door, and since then there is an emptiness that can only be filled by going back to it as I left it, even though there will be subtle changes. In my heart I know that can never be. War changes you. I believe it was the famous war correspondent Joe Galloway who said it best: “Those who have seen war will always see it long after it is over." (sic)

If you are to fall on the battlefield you will always be remembered by those whose lives you touched, but it is your family that will forever carry the burden. They are left with the memories of your laughter, smile, and delicate voice that will always echo inside them. They are the unsung heroes of war that often go unnoticed and even forgotten. I have come to terms with the fact that there is a chance that something could go wrong and I may not return, but it is the faces of my loved ones that haunt me. To imagine being without them can rattle the heart and soul of the strongest soldier.

It is not the amount of money or material wealth possessed that dictates the worth of a man’s life, it is his family. Without family there is no point to why we are here. I do not miss such things as going to the mall, driving my car, or even the ability to go food shopping; it is them that I miss. They are the driving force for me to stay alive and to keep those around me the same. We are born by family and we will die by family. It has taken me many years to realize this, but more so than ever I need them now. It is their emails and packages; it is the hand-drawn pictures and words of encouragement. This is what drives me to continue.

A lifetime has passed since I have been able to hug them and tell them that I love them in person. How do we return and explain all that we have said and done here? All of us struggle with what we do to accomplish our missions, but if we do not, then our comrades might pay the price. Regardless if you are facing the enemy or stationed on the Forward Operating Bases, everyone struggles. Distance and time are the true enemies of the soldier.

For those who serve in Afghanistan, better known to some as "The Forgotten War”, we struggle with what we are doing here. Iraq is always served to the public as the true struggle, but for us it is here and now. It is hard to tell our loved ones how things are here, and I am not sure we even know. There is no one in the media, or even most of our key leaders, who praise our accomplishments. But the families of this war are displaced even more so.

I dedicate this to my family, to those who keep the watch while I am gone. This is for the endless pen marks on the calendar, for the Christmas presents that are still wrapped, for the tears left on the phone long after I have hung up, for the empty email boxes, for those who keep going on and look forward to the next sunrise, one step closer to me coming home. You are my heroes. This is for you, my love, who has shown me that this world has so much to offer. Thank you for believing in me during the darkest times. I love you.

“And if I stare too long I might not see you right, so close the door where the heart is out of sight.”
              -- COC

Comments

We're with ya, bro. At least sort of. I know, from experience, that nobody is doing this but you. All the flags, banners and well wishes aren't worth much. but it's all we got.

I don't much agree with Bushs' War, but it means a lot of good people are serving their country, and their ideals, by serving.

But if it means anything to you, vets remember. We do carry our previous experiences always. All you guys see is a bunch of fat, grey bikers when we do escorts and flag lines, but we see you. We see ourselves in you and remember what we once did. And we honoryou dor doing your part today.

The common dangers. But more, the common boredom, loneliness, deprivation, and the dedication to something greater than ourselves

Nice thing about loving and caring about those you left behind, they are worth the memory and the dreams of your future with them. Do your job and do it your best and come back home soon, the best of life is always before you and only founded upon the goodness of the past.

Thank you so much for this posting. It is so moving and I want you to know that not everyone is clueless about Afghanistan. Those troops there are not forgotten in thoughts and prayers. And, by the way I'm anti-war and don't know anyone who is over there but I care about you and your comrades and your fate nonetheless. I hope you come soon to your family. God bless!

Your post really moved me. I am at home waiting in month 13 of my son's 15 month deployment to Iraq. Please know that millions of us at home think of you, and everyone else serving, every day. Wish you the best, and hope you get back to that family that means so much to you soon!

Mike --

Like 'Spencer,' I also want you to know that not everyone is clueless re Afghanistan. To me, Iraq is >NOT< the "true" struggle. Rather, to me it is another 'Nam.

I despise Dubya for putting so many of you in harm's way. But, I support all of you and the sacrifices you have made being away from family & loved ones.

Just get your ass back safe. OK?

Member, Tonkin Yacht Club, '69-'70.

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