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.


November 16, 2010

Name: Scott
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog: The Sand Docs

Today is Veteran's Day in the United States. In honor of those who have given so much I wanted to look at how they are remembered here. But first a thought about war memorials.

A few years ago, my sister was married in a church in the famous Italian neighborhood in St. Louis called The Hill. This church had been built amongst the square grid of streets in a crowded neighborhood that was populated during the great wave of immigration a century ago in America. It was ethnic community in every sense and this church was part of its fabric. But with time and the march to the suburbs, that ethnic identity gradually waned.

Before the ceremony I was wandering the back of the church where I stumbled on a seemingly forgotten photo album. The album contained pictures of the young men from that neighborhood who had been killed in America's wars. The majority of the pictures were of World War II veterans but also some were from Korea and Vietnam. There were no pictures from the current conflicts. As I flipped through the pages, I wondered about the young men, the lives they lived and those they didn't live, and how much their legacy depended on that neglected photo album.

And so it is on the FOB. The tragedy of the life lost too young is immense. Yet, even here, where that tragedy is experienced most immediately, the memorials tend to recede from constant thought amidst the inevitability of daily routine. Furthermore, the war in Afghanistan is now America's longest war, and one of the small consequences is that the memories of these men are receding even here. Some of them were killed three, four, five, even six years ago which is an eternity in the tempo of unit deployment. Therefore I wanted to display the ways they are remembered even if their personal histories are vague to us.

Structures are named for them,

The FOB Gym

SPC Scott Andrews

the Romanians have erected memorials,

Cross at the Romanian Chapel

Memorial Garden nestled between tents

barriers and walls are painted,

Jersey Barrier

and the dining facility has reserved them a place.

The Empty Chair


Don't know if this matters but, I just want to say that I'm not one of those Americans that seem to have forgotten that there are soldiers fighting and dying right now. Every time I drive on I89, I stop at the memorial at the rest area.

I wish that they didn't have to go in the first place and I wish that they could come home asap..

I recognize Lagman. I was a police mentor there in 2008. We brought a number of customers to the FST there- mostly ANP. They got first-rate care. It was a confidence-builder knowing that you guys were relatively close while we were running around the landscape with three UAHs and two-dozen Afghan Cops! Thanks for all you do.


I grew up on military bases all around the country. I've visited bases and outposts overseas. I've seen lots of memorials, I pay attention to them. As I was scrolling down, I thought "How cool, how beautiful" at the Romanian ones. I smiled at The Nasty. As I scrolled down to the dining facility, I recognized the boots, the rifle, the helmet, the rose in the vase on every dining table. Then I got to the title - The Empty Chair. Oof, right in the gut. Well done you.

Wow. That is an obscene amount of deadly ordinance. Landmines are nasty and unfortunately the discovery (safe and unsafe) is shoved in the hands of the next generation. The child didn't deserve that- no child does. Your empathy shows what America is all about.

-American Reader

Thanks for your service and patiotism!

That was a great set of photos. Really nice to see that there are small but powerful memorials that touch us all. I remember the memorials in Washington DC from years ago and how amazing and eye opening they are. I know there will be a deserving place for the veterans and casualties of Irag and Afghanistan there someday and I will make it a point to support its construction and hopefully see it in person, what a simple but powerful way to say thank you and God bless.

Nice to see their dining facility.

I deployed with spc Andrews, spc reed, spc johnson, sgt fisher and sgt Stanley... I even met sgt lim when I was going home on rnr and kept in touch up to the day he was taken from us. They were extremely hard days an looking back on i, it's even harder. All were great men and they'll never be forgotten.

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