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.

WRITING WORKSHOPS FOR VETERANS |

October 28, 2013

Name: Matt Gallagher
Returned from: Iraq
Milblog: Kerplunk

“I’ve done a lot of horrible things in my life,” the author Thomas McGuane once said, “but I never taught creative writing.”

Words to consider, for writing students and teachers alike. Love them or hate them, writing workshops are entrenched in the culture of contemporary writing, be it formally in the halls of academia or informally in living rooms across the country. With increasing frequency, the workshop model has penetrated the veterans community, where a still-rising number of young men and women are returning home with stories to tell and meaning to seek.

But not all writing workshops for veterans are created equal.

Since returning from Iraq in 2009, I’ve attended (and taught) a variety of veteran-centric writing workshops. Some focused on the veteran-as-artist transition. Others were more interested in the cathartic benefits of writing. Some had the institutional support of wealthy donors and involved administrators, while others, well, didn’t. Widely seen as the pre-eminent new writing workshop for veterans, the New York University Veterans Writing Workshop was where I personally found a group and an environment worth coming back to, week after week, to hone my craft with like-minded souls.

There was one common refrain at all these workshops, though: civilians couldn’t attend. To gain entrance as a student, one had to present his veteran credentials at the door.

While perhaps not intentional, this admittance policy reinforced an ugly undercurrent of thought in military writing – that one shouldn’t write about war unless one participated in it as a combatant or otherwise survived its destruction. Constructive criticism offered by civilian instructors was all too often met with a “Well, that’s the way it happened” reply, as if that made up for the lack of character development or cohesive narrative in submitted pieces. Even nonfiction pieces more journalistic in nature than creative require strong writing and heavy reworking – “That’s the way it happened” is best saved for the version told at bars.

For veteran writing workshops to flourish, I found, they needed to stress the writing part over the veteran part, and they needed to focus on improving students’ work over making students feel good about themselves. Like anyone else, battle-hardened Iraq and Afghanistan veterans appreciate positive reinforcement, but in a society with a civilian-military divide as wide as ours, blanket positivity can often come across as condescending. Further, even vets at workshops predominantly for healing purposes sought to improve their work. Sometimes that required a suggestion to pick up classics like Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry. Other times it required a quick lesson on the importance of active verbs. And still other times it required a frank discussion about rising above tired military tropes and clichés, or not including confusing details in order to “stay true to life,” as if writing itself wasn’t already artifice.

Such lessons happened in a dynamic atmosphere with multiple perspectives and worldviews represented – perspectives and worldviews not just veteran, but civilian, too. But unless these veteran workshops came packaged with a confident and vocal instructor, engaged civilian voices weren’t represented. We were lucky to have that at the New York University workshop when I attended it. Such didn’t always happen elsewhere.

Concurrently, I returned to graduate school for a degree in creative writing. During my two years in M.F.A.-Land, I was exposed to civilian voices and views I hadn’t encountered much since my pre-service days. These voices and views proved critical in improving my creative work, even when I ultimately disagreed with their feedback, because they made me consider why I was doing so in a way that transcended the reflexive “They weren’t there, they don’t know what they’re talking about.” It was my duty as a writer to make sure they knew what they were talking about, and if they weren’t getting there after reading a submission about Iraq or about military life, it was because I’d failed them, not the other way around.

I workshopped with Hasidic Jews from Brooklyn and with hipsters from Turkey, while studying under Pulitzer Prize winners and sharp-eyed magazine editors. I learned from all of them, and hope they learned from me too, because of our differences in background, perspectives and approaches to craft, not in spite of them. While some of my experiences at veteran-only workshops were similarly meaningful in these ways, some had not been. What to do then, to more accurately replicate the grad school feel in veteran writing workshops?

Though my experiences are anecdotal, there is wider evidence to suggest veteran-only classrooms are often well-intended missteps. According to “An Ethical Obligation: Promising Practices for Student Veterans in College Writing Classrooms,” a 2013 study of post-9/11 veterans returning to college, written by D. Alexis Hart and Roger Thompson, there are a variety of drawbacks to “veteran-designated classes,” from isolating vet-students from the larger campus culture to the veterans themselves subcategorizing between branches and combat experience. While Hart and Thompson caution that investigating these classes wasn’t the primary focus of their study, their findings do point toward assimilation being a far more useful goal for both the administrators and students.

I finished my M.F.A. coursework in May, spending my summer in coffee shops furiously finishing a war novel that doubled as my thesis. Between bouts with lattes and trite writerly angst, an old friend, Brandon Willitts, approached me about serving as a writing instructor for his new nonprofit, Words After War. I hemmed and hawed until Brandon said he didn’t just want to talk about bridging the civilian-military divide, he wanted to actually do it by bringing interested, smart civilians into the classroom with vet-writers. And why not? If these wars truly are all of society’s and not a separate warrior caste’s, why should veterans be the only ones turning to literature about war and conflict in classrooms and workshops?

Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, especially veteran-writers of Iraq and Afghanistan, love to pontificate about the civilian-military divide – myself included. It is real and it is immense and unfortunately, nothing short of conscription seems likely to eliminate it. That doesn’t mean we stop trying to bridge it, of course, but it’ll take both sides reaching out to do so. If we’re serious about these wars and their aftermaths belonging to the entire American citizenry, it’s our responsibility as vets not to harangue anyone who didn’t go abroad with us. We need to let them speak, too, and let them speak about what the wars looked like from a distance. Their perspective matters just as much as ours does, something the veteran community would be wise to remember if we’re going to be able to effectively affect the future for the better.

That’s what we’re putting in place at Words After War. One didn’t need to have to carry a gun in a foreign land to study and contemplate war and conflict literature. Take Katherine Anne Porter, for example. She never served in combat. But a few paragraphs of her work will show any reasonable mind she understands the terrible depths of conflict and loss.

Here’s the haunting last paragraph of Pale Horse, Pale Rider: “No more war, no more plague, only the dazed silence that follows the ceasing of the heavy guns; noiseless houses with the shades drawn, empty streets, the dead cold light of tomorrow. Now there would be time for everything.”

For readers of more contemporary literature, consider Ben Fountain. He wrote the finest Iraq war novel to date, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, without having served in the military. Yet the dissociation his characters experience upon returning to American soil is pitch-perfect, and remarkably so – only accomplished because Fountain researched, wrote and rewrote for it to be that way.

We’ll be studying Porter’s stories and Fountain’s novel in our workshop, among many other works, written by vets and civilians alike.

Just as there’s no panacea for bad writing, there’s no panacea for veteran writing workshops. I have no doubt other veteran writing workshops across the country have their own lessons learned, and are establishing their own best practices accordingly. That said, the history of the arts tends to be one of fighting for inclusion, especially to involve talented, driven people. We at Words After War look forward to being a small part of that tradition. I hope some of you can join us.

 

Matt Gallagher grew up in Nevada and was educated at Wake Forest and Columbia. A former Army captain, he is the author of the Iraq war memoir “Kaboom” and a co-editor of and contributor to “Fire and Forget: Short Stories From the Long War,” both published by Da Capo Press.

This essay original appeared on the New York Times blog At War.


HOLDING THE LINE ON VALUES |

October 21, 2013

Name: Gabriel Russell
Returned from: JSOTF-P
Hometown: Seattle
Blog: Hard Stripes
Email: gabriel.russell@takoubasesecurity.com

Framed RUSSELL SafewayPerspective. Got stuck in the lone checkout line at Safeway behind a woman buying groceries with her EBT card (food stamps). She had her teenaged son with her and a huge stack of coupons. I’ve been having a frustrating week. I was wearing coat and tie and probably had a grumpy look on my face when I arrived. The woman working the register kept looking at me apologetically as time went on and the line grew.

The shopper had a coupon for almost every item. She went through that stack of coupons four times slowly because she was missing one. I think she had coupons for apples, soup, pasta, rice, beans, and bread. She was missing a 60 cent coupon for her two cartons of almond milk. She had a list and had calculated to the penny what she could buy, had $70 on her EBT card and $20 or so on a check she had written but she was $1.20 short to finalize the purchase.

I was tempted to pass the woman two bucks but she was already starting to radiate with awkward embarrassment. Her son stood behind her and stared at the floor. Finally the shopper asked the register worker if there was any way she could look through the weekly flier and find the coupon she needed and the worker started paging through it for her.

My irritation dissipated the longer I stood there. Its been a long time since I agonized over $1.20 for food. I’ve never had to do it with a crowd behind me. I could see the time and care she had put into her shopping trip, calculating the cost, clipping coupons, buying cheap healthy food.

I relaxed. I smiled. The coupon was finally found and the sale made. The register worker kept thanking me for my patience. I suppose these days most folks expect a certain amount of eye-rolling and grimacing when a customer is inconvenienced for a few minutes. We’re very busy people.

By Monday, the shutdown will have cost me enough from a plane ticket change fee and a lost weekend of National Guard wages that it will sting. But I won’t miss a meal, or even skimp. I won’t miss a mortgage payment. I won’t fear for my phone or electricity being shut off. I have friends that may. I’m grateful for all that America has given me. I’m glad my wife has a good-paying job.

Not everyone is so lucky. We have young National Guard soldiers here in Washington State that rely on their drill pay for food and lodging and on military tuition assistance to pay for college. They won’t be getting either due to the shutdown. Each of them volunteered to serve in their nation’s military during time of war, uncertain of the cost.

This will likely, hopefully, be resolved before my young soldiers or friends in federal service even have time to apply for food stamps or unemployment. But not, perhaps, before a few missed payments, missed meals, and sleepless nights. It bothers me to see them treated this way.

The legislative branch of our government has its work cut out for it. I’d like to see them take up that task with the same zeal, teamwork and selfless sense of service to nation and community I see in the young soldiers and law-enforcement officers that work for me. I’d like that a great deal.

All I did. The best I did today, was to stand patiently in line behind someone less fortunate than myself and not act like a complete ass. The woman at the register seemed appreciative. Almost like she expected me to be annoyed. Is this what we’ve come to? Is this what people expect?

Patience. Compassion. Persistence. Teamwork. I expect these attributes of my most junior employees.

I expect them of myself.

I expect them of my government.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SPOONER |

October 15, 2013

Name: Mikey Piro
Returned from: Iraq
Hometown: Lindenhurst, NY
Milblog: ptsdsurvivordaily
Email: mpiro45@gmail.com

I am fortunate that my service and continuing my blog has connected me with an extended group of supportive people. Recently, a particular article came across my Facebook feed and it is so impactful that I must send it forward.

Scot Spooner has done Veterans everywhere a great service. In many of the conversations I have with others about staying on track, I explain that the teachings of twelve-step recovery heavily influence my daily structure. Scot, as a recovering alcoholic before he entered the service, had to stare down a big life change once before. In reading his article, I’m sure he leaned on those experiences in combating PTSD.

So, I encourage you to read his article in its entirety (there's a link down below), but first let me share the gems that I personally found myself nodding up and down about:

The New Normal

“…post-WWII, they conducted a survey to find out who was affected (back then they called it shell shock) at a psychological level by mortal combat. Their findings were that 2% were unaffected. This 2% was made up of psychopaths. This means that to be affected, to have shell shock, soldier's heart or PTSD (call it what you will), is normal.”

On comparing experiences

My view: don’t. His view, more eloquent:

“My experience is real and it is mine alone, just as you have yours. It is not the amount of time on the ground, the number of buddies killed, the number of enemy killed, or any other 'score card' that matters. What I am here to talk about is that if you experienced mortal combat on the field of battle, you are forever changed, just as I am.  And no amount of score keeping can quantify individual effect on our mind body and soul. This issue is unique to each and every combat veteran and it is in relating to one another, not comparing, that we find common ground and share common solutions.”

Trace to the root, deal with the problem

“I had to realize that there was a reason for every single symptom that I was experiencing and until each one of these symptoms was traced to the root and dealt with through appropriate action, nothing was going to change. This bring up another point of discussion that will tie in my earlier correlation to how dealing with PTSD is very similar to dealing with addiction.”

On Suicide:

“Just like any other issue I have had in life, I will only take action when the pain level takes me to my knees. The scary part about this fact is that some take it to the extreme, which is why the veteran suicide rate is what it is. People believe that suicide is a coward’s way out, and I say to those who say that: 'You have no idea, and should keep your short sighted opinion to yourself.' Those who have committed suicide due to their inability to learn how to live with the 'new normal' were not and are not cowards. They are people that need relief. We are all creatures of comfort and will always seek comfort. Hell, that’s why we squirm around in a chair –- to get comfortable. These individuals end up in a place in life that is so painful that the only way to achieve any level of sanity or comfort is to end it all.  Unless you have ever been in so much pain that death looks like a good alternative to continuing to live in hell in this life, you have no right to judge a veteran that makes this sad yet too common choice. This is what we must strive to change!”

And finally, a great list, affectionately henceforth to be called:

Spooner’s 18:

1. Went to ART therapy to process traumatic memories.
2. Read and studied a book titled War And The Soul, by Dr. Edward Tick.
3. Researched the symptoms of PTSD in order to get some intel on the enemy.
4. Went to and continue to go to acupuncture and take natural herbs and supplements to support my vital organs and critical systems.
5. Do my best to stay on a solid PT regimen. I suck at this –- that’s why I joined the Army, so I could be made to work out!
6. Find a therapist that I am comfortable with and make the appointments count every time. Being honest and taking advice.
7. Telling my story to civilians in an effort to heal and to give them some of my burden.
8. Getting involved with non-profit ventures to try and give back.
9. Having the courage to admit my struggles with the world, especially when i didn’t want to (which is always).
10. Writing a daily journal entry in order to get what is inside of me outside of me.
11. Writing a daily gratitude list to remind myself of all that I have to be thankful.
12. Writing a Daily Design and schedule.
13. Mentoring other vets who are struggling.
14. NOT spending time telling war stories with other warriors for the sake of feeling the “old rush” or a good laugh.
15. Learning to be present wherever I am.
16. Removing negative people from my life.
17. Spending time with people that are living in the solution, not talking about the problem.
18. Maintaining a relationship with a power greater than myself whom I choose to call God.

The whole article is here.

So, read, share and huge thanks to Scot Spooner for staying in the fight.

ONCE A MARINE |

October 08, 2013

Name: Stephen Canty
Returned from: Afghanistan
Hometown: Charlottesville, VA
Email: stephen.a.canty@gmail.com

Once a Marine is a documentary about two war veterans, one a filmmaker, the other a heroin addict, traveling across the country to interview the men they fought beside in search of a deeper answer to the question of what it’s like to come home from a battlefield.

Our Director, Canty on the right and Doss, the producer on the left.  We were both 18 then on our first deployment.
Canty (director, on left) and Doss (producer, on right). We were both 18 then, on our first deployment.

America has been at war for twelve years. Countless infantrymen have fought on the frontlines in two conflicts. There have been hundreds, if not thousands of stories about war and PTSD, but none have been told entirely by the men who participated. Our entire crew served together on multiple deployments to Afghanistan. When we interview someone, they are willing to be honest and open because we have earned their trust. In almost every other documentary, when a combat veteran talks to an outsider, they speak from behind a mask.

 

This documentary is important because it will help us heal by allowing us to talk to the men that were there. This is the first documentary about the transition to civilian life where everyone involved -- our producer, director, and sound man -- all fought alongside one another and have learned to depend on each other. This is our story and your donation will give us a voice.

After getting out of the military many veterans struggle with depression, loss of purpose, and suicidal ideation. The effects of PTSD have been well publicized, but for the men with the diagnosis, the symptoms they suffer are part of a much larger experience that changed them forever, for good and for bad. No matter how successful combat veterans end up "transitioning" back to the civilian world, war was the most formative and, to date, most significant part of their lives.

Framed Canty Poppy Field
Casualty evacuation in a poppy field.

My name is Stephen Canty and three years ago I was a Marine infantryman fighting in Marjah Afghanistan, a place that was called at the time "the last Taliban stronghold" Now, as a civilian I am trying to make a documentary about the Marines I fought alongside in Afghanistan and their struggle to return to civilian life.

Combat is indescribable. It is humanity at both its best and worse. I never felt more alive than when I was that close to death. But when we started to lose marines from our company, I found I had to get comfortable with the idea of not coming home to deal with the realities of war. Six months after my second deployment to Afghanistan, I was out of the military and back in my hometown.

I joined the Marines in 2007 at just seventeen years old. Technically, I was still a high-school senior. At the time I was enrolled in the best courses my high-school had to offer, pursuing all those things middle class kids do to look good for college admissions officers. But I felt I needed to prove something to myself. So I dis-enrolled from all my smart kid classes and graduated early in order to go to boot-camp in the middle of my senior year. My teachers said I was throwing away my education. Little did they know, hell I didn't even know, what kind of education I was about to get.

I didn't plan much before I got out. I just wanted to be done. I got a job, went to college and tried to move on. I was doing well by all accounts, but still felt numb towards life. I couldn't maintain personal relationships, started drinking and doing drugs, and struggled to find a purpose. One day I bought a camera and started filming everything around me.

I started looking at film schools and thought a short documentary about the transition from combat to civilian life would be unique enough to get me in. I called some of the guys I was in with to see if they'd be willing to talk. Many of us hadn't spoken since we'd gotten out of the Marines. I'd assumed everyone was doing better than I was. We'd only spoken on Facebook and never about anything important. I called a few guys up and our phone calls lasted for hours. As it turned out, we were all in the same boat.

After talking with just three of them, I realized that they all mentioned the same issues; depression, lack of purpose, bitterness, and difficulties that they had in dealing with the loss of friends. We thought about Afghanistan all the time. The budding film-maker in me realized there was a story here.

I couldn't film much besides interviews; I didn't have the budget to stay in any location for more than a weekend or the equipment to make any handheld shooting look more than amateur video. But I cut a trailer and people started to take notice of what I had. They saw that these guys were willing to talk with me openly and honestly because I was one of their own and they had at one point trusted me to watch their backs.

 

Marines I served with messaged me on Facebook tell me, "I'm glad to know I'm not the only one that feels this way." Marines I hadn't served with told me they were glad someone was finally telling our story.

A few weeks after posting the trailer, one of my closest friends from the Marine Corps, Doss, came down on a train from Schenectady, New York to spend the weekend with me. He paid for the ticket himself because I couldn't afford it. He'd kicked the heroin habit he'd developed shortly after getting out of the Marines and wanted to sit down for an interview. Doss got out three months before me. I used to call him just to hear how awesome it would be when I got out.

Doss during our interview.Doss during our interview.

 

By the time I got out, Doss had less positive things to say about being a civilian. In the first few months after getting out, many of us had tried calling him but he started answering less and less. In the Marine Corps, Doss was always comic relief. He wasn't so funny as heroin took over his life.

 

Doss showing off his tats and tracks.Doss showing off his tats and tracks.

 

After our interview, he volunteered to help with the film in any way he could and really meant it. He said, "Dude, I don't have a job, I don't have shit to do, I'm down to travel with you, carry stuff, set up cameras, whatever you need."

I'd fought beside him in combat and regardless of his struggles with heroin, I knew I could trust him with my life. I knew he could handle tasks and that I could rely on him so I told him he'd have to learn to be a producer. Now I had a crew.

I realized that this was something greater than making a short documentary for film school. I was telling a story that had never been told. Up until now, I had been using spare curtains as a backdrop and mismatched cameras to shoot with.

I decided that I had to do this project right, the first time, because I feel like it's the only chance I have before people will no longer care. The novelty will be gone. And this is where you come in.

I need to raise $50K to buy equipment and travel the country to conduct interviews with the men we fought alongside who are now scattered across America. If you help fund our Kickstarter campaign, your money will help tell a story you’ve never heard before, straight from the horse’s mouth it will cover equipment, legal fees, website development, insurance, post-production, and all the little bits and pieces necessary to make a film and get it to an audience.

Here's our Kickstarter video:

 

And here is a complete breakdown of our budget:

EQUIPMENT

CAMERA: $3,900
Canon 5d MK III with 24-105 mm lens. This camera matches up with the one I have and will allow me to cut between cameras with no noticeable picture change. The lens has image stabilization, which helps with run and gun shooting.

CAMERA ACCESSORIES: $4,200
Tripod, batteries, memory cards, shoulder rig with follow focus, and external monitor. These are all the nuts and bolts required to shoot all day, power the camera, and move with the camera. I'd like to shoot more than just static interviews and show these Marines in the civilian world. Up until now, I haven't because I don't have enough equipment.

LAPTOP AND DRIVES: $4,000
This is the cost of a Macbook Pro and a bunch of external drives to store and back-up any footage I shoot. I plan on using the travel time to start editing the film together and with just five interviews the documentary already takes up close to a terabyte of space. I'll need a powerful machine and a ton of storage.

LIGHTING: $3,100
Kino-Flo 4 Bank 2 Light kit and bulbs. The lights I use now are very hot and usually become a distraction at some point during the interview. These lights are expensive but don't get anywhere near as hot as the tungsten lights I use now. I'll be able to interview subjects longer before they get uncomfortable.

AUDIO: $1,500
A Rode NTG-2 Shotgun microphone, blimp, boompole, and audio recorder.

DESKTOP COMPUTER FOR FINAL EDIT: $3,000
The first thing I did when I got back from Afghanistan the second time was build a computer. that was over three years ago. I didn't build it with video editing in mind and it shows. I had a major hard-drive failure over the summer and almost lost everything I was working on. Having a powerful desktop computer will cut down on my editing time and ensure a great finished product.

TRAVEL: $6,000
Two months on the road, $50 a day per fiem per person. This is for food, any hygiene supplies, and whatever else we need.

GAS AND TOLLS: $1,000
New York to Florida is roughly 1,300 miles one-way. This should cover all of our road costs.

AIRFARE: $2,000
this will cover any additional travel expenses such as hotels we may need to stay at (in case someone can't put us up) or car problems.

SURPLUS: $2,000
This will cover any additional travel expenses such as hotels we may need to stay at (in case someone can't put us up) or car problems.

That leaves about $15,000 after Kickstarter gets their cut. this will cover legal fees, Kickstarter rewards fulfillment, film festival submissions, and the final edit for the rilm.

Doss and I will be driving up and down the East coast from New York to Florida making stops as we go to visit our brothers-in-arms. When someone has spare time and wants to come along, we'll find a place for them on our crew as a boom operator. After we shoot those interviews we'll fly to Nevada to visit a Marine who re-joined after five years of civilian life! Then we'll head to Alaska to give one of our furthest-flung friends an opportunity to speak.

I've alread spent a year getting to this point. Ths is the only thing I've done since being back that has any meaning. And I know it's helping the guys by giving them a voice.

  Framed Canty Sunset on Marjah

Sunset on Marjah.

Please help make Once a Marine a reality by making a contriubution to the project on our Kickstarter page.

 

 

OUTLAW PLATOON |

October 01, 2013

Name: 1SGT (retired) Troy Steward
Returned from: Afghanistan  
Milblog: Bouhammer's Afghan and Military Blog

Framed Steward OUTLAW coverSean Parnell's book Outlaw Platoon: Heroes, Renegades, Infidels, and the Brotherhood of War in Afghanistan is a must-read if you want a first-hand account of what combat was like at a time when there was only one Army Combat Brigade in all of the country trying to bring the fight to the enemy.

I was there at the same time, in the same place and doing the same things that Sean and his platoon were doing. That is what made this book so personal to me, and I can tell you there is no embellishment in this book, and the stories, actions and experiences are valid and true. This book will open your eyes to the things America’s sons went through without her ever knowing it. During that time we who were there felt we were in "the forgotten war," and we were right. The US media focused purely on Iraq, and forgot there was a war going on in Afghanistan.

Sean talks about that first day on Bermel, and carrying a little dying girl in his arms, and how he had to lock that away as his troops arrived over the following days. He takes you into monotony of everyday life in a combat area. You get an idea of what life is like living in the B-huts of a remote FOB, the guys who are “heroes” back home, but are less than stellar soldiers in the field and are truly not contributing to the greater good of the mission.

Sean will also walk you though some of the darkest and most horrific events that our young men and women have to experience. It is one thing to see bodies blown apart and have death all around you; as soldiers we tend to build a callous around our heart for such things. However there is pure evil in our enemies and Sean will show you an example of that in a young boy and what the enemy did to him. I consider myself able to handle about anything. I have seen, smelled, and held some of the grossest things on this planet with no problem. Yet it was difficult and disturbing to imagine what he and his men went through when they found this young boy stumbling down the road.

I think you will be surprised to learn about what they went through, battle after battle, in and around that little place called Bermel. I remember being on operations and hearing Sean’s company and platoon being in contact. When I would hear their calls for air support and medvacs I remember thinking “Wow, those guys are getting shit on today." I remember seeing their blown-up and shot-up Humvees back at the Battalion maintenance area and saying a prayer that hopefully everyone made it out alive.

Sean will also take the reader on a journey into his own tribulations, and not dying when he easily should have. Many men have quickly died from the proximity of explosives and shrapnel that Sean experienced, and that he lived through it is truly a miracle. Couple that with how he should have sought and been given aid, but refused and what he went through after that, and I am sure you will have a great respect for this man. Lastly you will see not only the exterior battles that our warfighters go through in fighting with the enemy, but also the interior threats they have to deal with when the people they are forced to trust turn on them.

I have tried to whet your appetite as much as I can in order to entice you to read this book, but at the same time not give everything away. If you truly care about what our troops went through in Afghanistan at the start of the resurgence of a deadly and determined enemy, then this is a book for you.

Many say they honor and are proud of our fighting men and women, but I don’t think much of America really knows what they should be proud for. This book will help you understand a little more of how awesome they are and the level of fortitude, sacrifice, courage and guts they display every day on the battlefield.

Below is the second part of the three-part Patriot Profiles series on OUTLAW PLATOON series, presented by Smith and Wesson.. If you haven’t read the book yet, I hope this video (along with the first and the third parts, which are available online) will convince you to go out and get a copy of the book right away. Once you start reading you won’t be able to put it down.

In 2006 Lt. Sean Parnell and the men of Third Platoon had deployed to one of the most dangerous area of Afghanistan, less than 10 miles from the Pakistani border. Their mission was to seek out enemy positions and thwart the movement of insurgent forces, into and out of the save haven of Pakistan. And was to disrupt and destroy this network at all costs. On the tenth of June, they were under a fierce assault by the Taliban and enemy insurgents. RPGs and Mortars rained down on them, and machine gun fire seemed to come at them from all directions. The number of casualties for third platoon was getting high, as their ammo was running low. If they didn’t get help soon, the outcome looked grim for Sean Parnell and the men under his leadership, known as the Outlaw Platoon.


Search Doonesbury Sandbox Blog

LINKS


About

My Photo

FEATURED BOOK