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.


July 14, 2009

Name: Chaplain CPT Dr. Father Tim 
Posting date: 7/14/09
Stationed in: Iraq
Milblog: Curmudgeon: An Unlikely Army Chaplain

A young priest arrived in theater recently, and he's been spending about a week with SFC McG and myself, as we accompany him and his Chaplain Assistant around the battlespace. I suspect he's finding things a bit overwhelming over here.

It's his first deployment. (Mine too, but hey, I'm old enough to be his father.)

Framed Chaplain BREAKING IN MRAP So far, we've experienced a convoy -- he did not like being bumped around in the back of an MRAP* at all, and a couple of helicopter flights -- the first of which for him was a Hero Flight. What an introduction to life -- and death -- over here.

Most recently the four of us went to the flight line to await transportation to a post I've been trying to get to for a long, long time. It finally looked as though we'd get there. The weather during the day was great, if a bit chilly, and the birds were flying.

Until we got to the flight line.

There we discovered that the Air Mission Request folks had bollixed up the manifest, and had taken him and his Chaplain Assistant off the roster. After standing around for about an hour, they went back 'home'. The young priest was pretty annoyed at the confusion and hassle.

SFC McG and I stood around at the flight line for another two hours before it became clear there was no way for us to get where we needed to go, do Mass, and be ready for the return flight -- if it even would show up. So we scrubbed the mission.The young priest was aghast when I got back to the CHU* (now I'm sharing my living space with him, after the several weeks of sharing it with my former boss), and mentioned that we'd wound up waiting in the cold for a total of three hours before calling for a ride back to the office, and that it took about 40 minutes for our driver to get there to pick us up (one of the other Chaplains had the vehicle we normally use, and our driver had to find someone to lend him their vehicle in order to the LZ*).

When I mentioned to the young priest that SFC McG and I take a convoy that starts out at 4:30 in the afternoon and doesn't reach its destination until after midnight -- with us bouncing around on manifestly uncomfortable seats the whole time, and then two days later leave at 12:30 in the morning, only to arrive back in time to begin the day's work about 8:30 or 9:00 a.m., his eyes got really big, and he looked really uncomfortable.

Welcome to paradise, my young friend!

Breaking in is hard to do.

Blessings and peace to one and all.


MRAP: Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle

CHU: Combat Housing Unit

LZ: Landing Zone


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I always thought CHU stood for "Containerized Housing Unit" not "Combat Housing Unit"

Really great story! I'm sure you'll have time to talk to him about his expectations! But first, make sure you tell him that the dining hall opens for cocktails at 6 p.m., and dinner commences at 7, after which, a movie will start immediately. If he doesn't learn humor, it's also going to be a long, long stay. (But do ask whether or not he suffers from motion sickness as well).

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 07/15/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

Perfect stuff as usual..Great post.Really an innovative and interesting idea. Thanks for informative listing.

This is really perfect for me because seeing that image above I remembered when my best friend was in the army, that was so perfect for him because he got different experiences.

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