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.


April 27, 2009

Name: America's 1st Sgt.
Posting date: 4/27/09
Stationed in: Iraq  
Milblog: Castra Praetoria

Been on deck nearly 10 days and this deployment may prove to be darkest night as compared to last year’s glorious days of ruggedness.

Framed AmFirst Spartans 1

Last deployment I had a rifle company that lived in an OP that looked like something out of the Road Warrior. Watchtowers festooned with machine guns and grenade launchers overlooked the maze of obstacles littering Entry Control Points.

Framed AmFirst Spartans 2

The Marines lived in conex boxes which were converted shipping crates covered in sandbags and Hesco barriers. The Company Commander, myself, the XO and our air officer all lived in one room together that used to be some kind of meat locker.

Framed AmFirst Spartans 3

Indirect fire from insurgent mortar teams was pretty regular until we killed them all.

The chow sucked. It was something known as UGRs or some such acronym. I suspect the name has something to do with the sound troops make while trying to choke down a mouthful of it. “UhhGGhRR!!”

Framed AmFirst Spartans 4

Physical violence nearly erupted the week we ate the same dish seven out of ten days. America’s 1stSgt was leading the way. The box was labeled chicken fajitas but I suspect it was composed of chicken colons. Marines were only able to pry my hands from the cook’s necks with a case of Dr. Pepper.

Mail from home was a most coveted item. We received mail twice a week and sometimes took as long as two weeks to reach us. Knife fights were known to break out over a package of homemade baked goods. Premium cigars were treated with nearly as much reverence as one’s personal weapons.

Air conditioners were appropriated and installed with sledge hammers. Marines also constructed their own phone center and computer stations. This was considered pretty high speed for us jarheads. Spaware was set up and the boys were able to call home and e-mail regularly. There was even a large screen TV and DVD player. We couldn’t get Armed Forces Network television, but as grunts we thought we lived in the lap of luxury.

Lean, hardened Marines exited friendly lines multiple times a day looking to take the fight to the forces of jihad. It was hot, miserable, sucky work and I remember it fondly.

We were totally ready for the Zombie Apocalypse.

This year I am completely disgusted with myself.

I have Headquarters and Service Company and we live on an air base that looks more like a small town (cue Mr. Rogers theme music).

The Marines live in air-conditioned trailers we call "cans" and fit two to a room. They have electricity, mattresses, cable for AFN television, and even wireless connections are available for internet use!

My can has a TV that is rarely watched. My laptop is KIA so that is not an option; no big deal there. I even have a small leather couch that does quite well as reading area.

It’s sick!

Mail is picked up daily and takes five to seven days to get here. I haven’t seen a knife fight in over a year. On base, there is Subway, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Burger King, KFC and a stinkin’ Cinnabon! There is a Green Bean Coffee Shop, though I see no reason to bad mouth that fine company.

Framed AmFirst Spartans 5

Then there are the dinning facilities. The food is pretty good eatin’ if you ask me. There is the main line for meals, a short-order line for burgers and such, a sandwich line, a salad bar, and the dessert bar. Yes, dessert has its own bar replete with various types of cookies, cake, pie, ice cream, and other fat pills.

Framed AmFirst Spartans 6

The movie theater shows two movies a day, there are USO comedy nights, and Charlie Daniels is doing a show this week. The PX sells, music, DVDs, potato chips, candy, and everything America’s 1stSgt doesn’t stand for.

The forecast for me leaving friendly lines in an effort to confront the forces of evil is not looking so good.

The base is totally inundated with Army, Air Force, Navy, KBR workers, and third country nationals.

It is the Zombie Apocalypse.


This was pretty funny! I enjoyed the pictures....something we would like to see more of (what things REALLY look like over there, NOT what they want, or allow us to see, and hear)

Tamber, that is what it looked like last year at our OP in Kharma and what it looks like on some of the larger bases with more amenities. Outside the wire, Iraq is quite a different place altogether.

Just wanted to say HI. I found your blog a few days ago and have been reading it over the past few days.

It does bother you when you came to fight a war and found yourself stuck in Mall Fluff Central, doesn't it? I remember a war like that once - we air conditioned them to our fatness, or we lost, I am so uncertain which. Take care, you will be needed for all your baser skills in combat leadership.

Your article very interesting, I have introduced a lot of friends look at this article, the content of the articles there will be a lot of attractive people to appreciate, I have to thank you such an article.

It's nice to hear that at least some of our soldier's are getting more then just the required necessities. If only the spread of good fortune was a little more wide spread.

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