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.

THE LAST BURNING EMBERS |

June 23, 2009

THE LAST BURNING EMBERS OF AN ENLISTMENT
Name: The Usual Suspect
Posting date: 6/22/09
Returned from: Iraq
Milblog: Stop-Loss, and a Wakeup?

This brings us to the last light of a strange and vile journey. Nearly every loose end is tied and the frayed ends are melted down with a buddy's lighter (armyfags will understand this one).

All the hoops, every last ring of the despicable circus, every detail, every mission, every CQ shift, every 3 AM drunken stagger through the barracks, every broken washing machine, every formation, all neatly categorized in a fat thick filing cabinet labeled "NO LONGER RELEVANT."

Sometime when I have a day to kill, I'll sit down and read this entire oddyssey from beginning to end, starting with the narrative from that dumb as shit nineteen year old kid, before there ever was a Suspect at all. I'll retrace all my steps and try to figure out where I was and where I am now. Get my bearings, nervously test the ground to be sure it's solid.

An unshaven, sparsely stubbled face behind a pair of Oakleys and unkempt hair will wear a tiny smirk from behind a sloped windshield, piercing through traffic on I-5. Riding off into the sunset, kid.

Yeah, I was never fully gone, but I was never really here either. A castaway in limbo, a wild rollercoaster of a trip that for all intents and purposes might not have even been real. Who I was and what I am now, well that's something that'll take some figuring out. Rising through the rubble of four years, I guess we have all the time in the world to piece that one together.

Depending on when you read this, I might already be out there amongst you. Hell, I have so many places to go and things to do, we'll cross paths and you won't even know it. A neat thought to be sure, but now's a good a time as any to pop ninja smoke and ghost the fuck out of here, roll credits, thanks for playing, ya don't have to go home but I ain't staying anywhere near this joint.

But first, let's share a parting chuckle, shall we?

My DD-214 reads "HONORABLE DISCHARGE." HaHaHaHaHaHa!  Yeah, a real All-American good ol' boy. My most honorable discharge was in the middle of a firefight in Baghdad, so joke's on you, Uncle Sam.

Peace, and fuck Honda.


P.S.  I started these filthy rags as a way to keep track of everything I was doing, let my friends see what was up with me if they by some miracle were still interested, and also because I couldn't find a complete chronicling of an enlistment anywhere on the internet.

That said, I never expected a whole lot, figured it wouldn't get much exposure and amount to little more than a notebook full of ramblings, stuffed under the bed or buried by dirty clothes in the closet, that sorta thing. I never really put a lot of intense thought into any of this, I just always sort of did it on a whim, very much in the moment, and when I was done I left it at that. On occasion, I went back and proofread, but usually not. So you can imagine what a kick in the ass it is to find that people read this of their own free will, and some even enjoy it. It still blows me away.

So thanks to everyone who has ever stopped to read, and to everyone who takes the time to email or comment and tell me to pull my head out of my ass or to otherwise opine and relate experiences. I never would have kept this rag up this whole time if it weren't for all the feedback. I get bored. So thanks for helping me complete this and giving me the kick in the ass I constantly need. The adventure continues at Rucksack To Backpack. Live free. Suspect.

Comments

Thank you. You have an amazing way with words and it has always been a treat for me when something pops up with your byline. Don't worry about the Honorable Discharge. I think it describes what the military is letting out more than what transpired inside.

Best of everything as you continue on your life's path. The wit, the passion, the disgust, the absolute pissedness (a word ?) at times, all were expressed by you with life force. For the soft folks like me back home it is important to have links to life in the war zones. Again, thank you for everything and keep writing.

Nearly half a century ago (64-68) I sat on a lonely mountain-top thirty clicks from the East German border watching tracers fired by Warsaw Pact (Soviet?) soldiers fly through the night sky. Had the Vietnam war half a world away gotten out of hand (Nixon was being advised to nuke Hanoi) twenty Soviet and east european divsions would've poured across the border. NATO only had 12 divisions in Germany. Our only realistic defense was tactical nukes. The Soviets would have responded with ICBM's and the rest would have been history - if there had been anyone left to write it. But look on the bright side - there would have been no Iraq or Afgan war. I share this with you because, as a fellow vet, I know that sometimes we forget the sacrifices we expect of our men and women in uniform, especialy those who are in combat zones. I wish you well my friend and if I do pass you on the street some day, I hope and pray that you won't have a sign that says, "Iraq Vet, Please Help".

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