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.

OUT OF HERE! |

July 03, 2013

Name:  1SG James L. Gibson
Returning from: Afghanistan
Hometown: Forest Grove, Oregon
Milblog: The Life of Top
Email: James.l.gibson@afghan.swa.army.mil

Everyone loves the Red and White Guidon and Stetsons!

Each Soldier in my Troop was patiently waiting for the CH-47s to call us forward to load. We were excited to leave FOB Apache for the final time and begin the long trek home. I was (and still am) carrying my guidon and wearing my Stetson whenever I can. I love the Cavalry.

Framed Top OUT OF HERE 1After what seemed like an eternity, the Crew Chiefs waved us forward to load up. I was the final Soldier in a long line and as I approached the bird the Crew Chief ran up to me and yelled in my ear, “We have a deal for you! You let us fly your guidon out the back of the helicopter during the flight and we will let you sit in the door gunner’s seat!”

“Hell Yeah!” was my response. Everyone loves the Red and White Guidon.

We arrived in Kandahar after a 40-minute flight. My Troop was to spend three days there waiting for our flight to Manas, Kyrgyzstan. The days flew by as we spent most of the time repacking our containers of equipment for the trip home. The weather was a lot warmer compared to FOB Apache due to the altitude difference. The hottest we had to deal with so far this year was maybe close to 90 degrees. Every day we spent in Kandahar it was 110.

Time flew by and we were soon on our way to Manas. As we loaded up onto the C-17 for the flight I sat down, extended my guidon while posting it in the rear of the plane, and put on the Stetson. It wasn’t two minutes later when the crew chief walked up to me and asked, “The pilot and co-pilot want to know if you want to sit in the cockpit for the flight!”

“Hell Yeah!” was my response. Everyone loves the Red and White Guidon.

Framed Top OUT OF HERE 2We landed in Manas after the two-hour flight and loaded onto busses that would take us to our temporary living areas. Everyone got settled in and made their way outside to the park benches. It was amazing to see all the Soldiers standing around and taking deep breaths of fresh air that smelled of trees and grass. It has always been the first thing I have noticed and enjoyed on all my previous deployments.

Each of us is allowed two beers every 20 hours. They control it by scanning our ID cards to ensure no one purchases more than allowed. Every bartender wears a shirt that reads “Best Two Beers Ever” across the back. They are correct.

We have completed all requirements here. Tomorrow morning we are loading up on the 747 (also known as the Freedom Bird) for the long flight home. Our Squadron has done great things, my Troop has done great things, and I get to bring them all back home alive. Mission accomplished!

I would like to thank everyone again for reading this blog. It has been an awesome journey. I plan to continue to write, but much less over the next few months as I get settled back into a routine at home.

I would like to thank the Soldiers of “Hunter” Troop for kicking ass and making me proud to be their First Sergeant. They have made my job easy.

But most of all I would like to thank my Wife. Katrin has done an amazing job back home taking care of three girls (11, 2, and 7 months), a dog, a cat, and all the craziness that comes with it. Not once has she complained about any of it. She is my Wonder Woman! She has kept everything back home running, which has allowed me to focus 100% on this deployment. Without her awesome support I wouldn’t be close to where I am now.

It has been one hell of a ride and I appreciate everyone taking time out of their day to go on it with me!

Respectfully,

JAMES L. GIBSON
1SG, USA
First Sergeant
“Hunter 7″
Headquarters and Headquarters Troop
2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment

Comments

I've enjoyed reading this blog and am glad you and your Troop are out of harms way. One day, maybe, there will be no need to send young men and women into harms way. Let's hope that day comes sooner rather than later. In the meantime, thanks to those who have the courage and resources to do this magnificently horrible work. Even more, in some respects, thanks to those these people leave at home to keep the home front secure .

Great story, thanks for posting it. I don't know what a Red and White Guidon is, but now I love it too!

http://www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil/images/guidons/BatteryofCavReg.jpg

Troops of Cavalry Regiment

The guidons will be red over white with the regiment number above and HQ or battery letter below. The letters and numbers are 3 1/2 inches high. The regiment number is white and HQ or battery letter is red.

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