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.


January 21, 2011

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

The new Air Force team is off to a remarkable start. Unfortunately, not in the good sense. Yesterday, we experienced our busiest day in well over a month. Three separate IED blasts brought patients to us, many of whom turned out to be KIAs. It was a deadly day.

Initially, an IED attack occured near one of the remote FOBs. Four patients became two when two died during transport. Later, another IED detonated along the Pakistan border from which we received a border patrol agent who was injured beyond our help. Another attack resulted in a badly wounded Afghan soldier with spleen and liver injuries so extensive that he required nearly 50 units of blood product to stabilize him. Finally, a 10-year-old boy in a motor vehicle accident sustained arterial injuries. To top it all off, MEDEVACs were held up by a rocket attack and subsequent casualties at KAF. The sum total left us to wonder if the day was an orchestrated campaign by the Taliban.

I happened to have a conversation with the local brigade combat team's surgeon. He offered that, thus far, it has been a busier winter of combat than in past years. Perhaps it's because the weather has been warmer than usual, which allows digging in ground not cold enough to be frozen, something I had not considered. He also mentioned that insurgents seem to be directing their efforts towards placing lower energy IEDs. The lower energy IEDs have subsequently been directed at Afghan units, which seems to be consistent with our recent patient population. By the end of the day, his thoughts seemed prophetic.

Dark clouds rolled in overnight and this morning we woke to sleet and heavy rain. It was as much precipitation as we have seen since our arrival and has turned our lovely dirt into lovelier mud.

Puddle of mud complementing Howitzer lawn ornament.


Hopefully yesterday's events don't represent dark clouds of another sort hanging over the new team's head. They have a long road ahead with spring and summer combat just around the corner.


Hello, my name is Katie Christman. i live in Indiana. I first want to thank you for serving our country, secondly i want to apologize. I want to apologize because I am so out of touch with this war. I got assigned by my English professor to take a look at this blog. It truly touched me. I have no family or friends serving so it very easy for me to "forget" what you all are doing for me everyday!! You are an insperation and a true hero. Thank you!

Hi, my name is Angie Boxell. I viewed your blog and was blown away by the responsibilities you have been given and the lack of respect from some. I just wanted the chance to tell you what you do is respected by many and thank you for teaching the brave men and women the best tactics for all of our safety.


This post reminded me of an article published in Maxim Magazine during the summer of last year about the DUSTOFF helicopter medevac pilots. It's a great article if you've never read it.

While reading these posts, and similar posts regarding the amount of triple and quadruple amputees, it made me start to question. What would I do if I was separated from my limbs in this way? Would I cry out for help? Would I rather die than be patched up to live a life where I could never embrace my wife or take a stroll through the vegetable garden? Or would I rather exist, knowing that Death had his chance and missed, making me the winner of this battle in a war that I will eventually lose. Is there even comfort in knowing that at least you are alive? Questions that I cannot answer, let alone fathom the experience.

Yet here I sit at my kitchen table in Wabash, Indiana wearing slippers, a robe and pajama pants, thinking, "Damn, I'm glad I'm not where you guys are." I suppose I should be feeling grateful right now for the soldiers that are fighting this war to preserve my freedom. But, all I can feel right now is that I wish you guys weren't there, sticking your necks out for a nation that doesn't care enough that you are there in the first place. Perhaps, we don't get enough coverage on the good things that happen there, thus becoming numb to the horrors. Horrors so disturbing that it is easier not to think about it and carry on our selfish lives.

I will pray for you, Scott. Not for your life and limbs, but for your return. I'm sure there are many here that know and love you dearly. It is for them, that I pray for your return. And an end to this war, where God may be glorified for his justice, and hatred may be erased through the hearts of generations. Thank you for this. I have learned to look beyond my own life. At least for now.

Matt Dillon

Wow I Had no idea of all the things that are happening. Thank you for serving our country.

cently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading

Private student loans should be considered as a "last resort" only. Students and parents should access all other available forms of aid, including scholarships, federal grants (e.g., Pell) and federal loans (with names like Stafford and PLUS) before considering a private student loan.

Thanks for making my morning a little bit better with this great article!!

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