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 15, 2009

Name: America's 1st Sgt.
Posting date: 7/15/09
Stationed in: Iraq  
Milblog: Castra Praetoria

Loot, loot, loot. We like getting stuff in the mail. No doubt about it. I know Marines that would rather take a kick to the junk than not get anything at mail call. Our poor mail clerk has been threatened with physical violence and accused of purposely hoarding mail by brownie starved by Marines and Sailors who haven’t even received so much as a card from home.

Framed AmFirst Loot 1 Of course, getting cool stuff like baked goodies is always in order and these are usually the most sought after and shared of items. There are legions of troops whose very diets revolve around chow sent from home. Feel free to read about UGRAs in one of my previous posts for a greater understanding of the foulness that is ingested by service members in more remote climes. In our case at Al Asad, mail is more of a morale issue than a gastrointestinal one. I know I get pouty when I don’t receive any.

Do you remember that feeling you had at Christmas when you were little? It’s the same feeling that comes over us at mail call. You might get a box of dirty underwear but it doesn’t matter as long as it has your name on it. The tough guys may shrug off not getting mail, but it is always a cool feeling to open your own package of loot.

Speaking of opening your own loot at Christmas, as a kid I recall being wide awake a 0500 in the morning and slinking down the hall to glimpse what was under the tree by whatever light was coming in through the window. Never once did I set foot in the living room before my parents were awake. My father had made it utterly clear that any gift un-wrapping without him being present was punishable by all manner of horrifying and grievous consequences. Yeah, so it’s just like that when the mail run goes.

No fondling mail that isn’t yours. Gunfights have started over less.

Framed AmFirst Loot 2
The parents of one of my Marines sent me a card last deployment. Here I am reading it to their son. Mail is fun, see?

Over Christmas of 2007 Hope was trying to send all of my warlords stockings and gifts in the mail. She was stressing out over the fact that none of it had arrived yet, and I probably didn’t help matters by being so blasé about it. Of course, I was dealing with my own issues including boneheads getting liquor in the mail, a carpet of mice trying to eat the FOB out from under me, and oh yeah, there was a war on.

Then on Christmas Eve Hope’s package arrived with decorated stockings for a number of specific individuals in the Company. Marines were nestled asleep in their beds while visions of manic Drill Instructors danced in their heads. I felt like Santa as I tip toed through the berthing hanging up stockings on Marine’s racks.

So if you ever wonder if you should send something to the boys out there the answer is yes you should.

Even if you don’t know them and even if they never write back. It may just be a card or a letter, but someone is going to read it.

Loot; it does a Jarhead good.


Great post! I especially liked reading it because I recently joined "Soldiers' Angels." They have a program called "Adopt a Soldier." I adopted a service member to send letters, cards and care packages to. The service member I adopted is currently deployed in Afghanistan and I just sent my first card to him today. I have been anxious about what I should/shouldn't write and labored over what to write for a week. "Labored" may actually be a strong choice of words- anguished over not sounding like a complete idiot by writing a letter filled with nonsense and/or cliches is more like it! Out of fear of sounding ignorant or trite I decided to just keep the first card simple and I still wasn't sure if it was good enough to send. Then I read your blog this evening.
Your closing sentences ("So if you ever wonder if you should send something to the boys out there the answer is yes you should. Even if you don’t know them and even if they never write back. It may just be a card or a letter, but someone is going to read it. Loot; it does a Jarhead good. ") eased my anxiety over sending what I thought might be a simplistic card from some silly civilian. Joining soldiers angels and signing up to adopt a "soldier" (only in quotes because my adoptee isn't in the army) is one of the best things that I have done in a while. It was just something I felt like I needed to do in order to truly show my support for our troops -not just support but also gratitude and pride. We truly have the finest military in the world. I feel immensely lucky and safe.
Thank you for the great post and may you be blessed with many loot filled mail calls. =) You deserve it!

Thank you for the post post :). It's good to know that the mail received is so valued.
I have 3 adopted guys through soldiers angels (all army) and now you've inspired me to send more weird-mail-from-australia [so far the water balloon launchers have been the biggest hits] to a jarhead through Keep safe!
Mari (from Downunder)

So... if I wanted to send some mail, where would I send it? To whom would I address it? Do you have any people not getting mail at all?

-- Jessica

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