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 13, 2009

Name: America's 1st Sgt.
Posting date: 4/13/09
Bound for: Iraq   
Milblog: Castra Praetoria

Everyone who has spent any time in the military is familiar with the concept known as "hurry up and wait." Waiting is fundamental to Marine Corps doctrine. Why, you may ask? Because if we eliminated waiting from our planning and operations we would be back from our deployment already, and that is just not acceptable.

Case in point, the longest day. This is the day you leave for your deployment. How is it the longest day? By all means read on.

Our longest day began with a chartered flight that was scheduled to take off at 08:30 in the morning. The abhorrent trolls that run operations at the air field (US Air Force) demand that we show up four hours prior to departure. So we had a show-up time of 04:30.

But wait, there's more.

The casual observer will forget that we are moving approximately 300 Marines and Sailors with all their equipment. This requires loading and unloading all the gear into chartered trucks. So we must tack on an extra hour for this. Very well, 03:30.

Hold on...

Before we load gear the State of Hawaii demands an agriculture inspection. This is to prevent the spread of man-eating Venus Flytraps and the Mad Orchid Disease from becoming a pandemic. So a dog handling team has to go through our bags before we load them. 03:00. The dog will be late. 02:30.

We also have to issue weapons, optics and all high speed equipment to all ninjas deploying. This is an exercise specifically designed to give everyone involved rectal cancer. It will also take at least two hours. 00:30.

Marines being notorious for their meticulous attention to detail, it just wouldn't be right if we didn't inspect the barracks before we left it in the hands of others. So let's start that at say 23:30.

So for an 08:30 flight we will arrive to work nine hours before departure. And who are we kidding anyway? You know I didn't get any sleep that night, so here I am up all Friday going into Saturday's deployment ritual.

Then the dumb stuff started happening.

We got on the plane at 07:30 as planned, but then there was some kind of contract issue involving weight and crews and other details that escape most Marines who are simply trying to do as they'd been told.

08:30 moves into 09:30 and on into 10:00. It seems we are not at fault on our end, but safety is now a concern as well and the pilot refused to fly the mission with the plane we had. As a side note, I will never ever badmouth anyone on a safety call and in this case I believe our pilot was looking out for our best interests.

Finally it is resolved that we will be served breakfast on our current plane (it was by now 13:00) then get off the bird and get on a new plane with bigger engines. Then we would finally depart at 15:30. By the time our flight finally left we had been sitting on the tarmac for eight hours.

The eight-hour wait was followed immediately by an eight-hour flight to Detroit with a two-hour lay over. Then we blissfully continued our journey among the clouds to Amsterdam, where our Dutch friends refused to let us go anywhere in the airport and we hung out in a terminal area that was smaller than our plane was. I guess they didn't want us animals scaring the locals.

Finally we landed in joyous Kuwait, where generally the weather is not unlike that of your nearest oven set on high. This time of year it is thankfully more like low bake.

The flight in and of itself was twenty-six hours, not counting the eight hours on the flight line or the nine or more hours of cat herding and full-belly-roaring employed to remind Marines that it is healthier to move with a sense of urgency than not to.

So here I am in Kuwait. Waiting for another flight to Iraq. Today all I have to do is turn chow into crap. The waiting has all been factored in.


Not to question military efficiency, but isn't it shorter to go from Hawaii westward instead of east? It sounds like an awful trip the way they routed you!


Been there and bought that "t-shirt" a few times. "Hurry-Up-And-Wait" is universal through the services. I hope your stay in Iraq is much more enjoyable.


MSG P, this year's deployment may prove to be more tame than last year.It's still dangerous enough to get you hurt or worse if you get caught sipping though.

MSG P, this year's deployment may prove to be more tame than last year.It's still dangerous enough to get you hurt or worse if you get caught
slipping though.

This is so funny and at the same time so sweet. I've been looking for a just term for describing my former employers and "abhorrent trolls" describes them perfectly. Stay safe in Iraq.

great writing first sergeant,i've been out almost 12 years now and i'm glad the corps i loved and hated hasn't changed at all.Semper Fi and good luck!

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