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.


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.


I have heard many stories from several of my friends that have deployed to different areas overseas. Some of the things they have been through and seen are inconceivable to me. I have major respect for everyone that has ever deployed. Semper Fi

I have heard a few stories from the guys I work with, but I am incline to say they sugar coat it for us. Reading this post and watching the video made me want to immediately go get the book. My son was surprised earlier in the year when he purchased a military book similar to this and came home to find me half way through the book. My answer was that I want to know what is happening in the world. To feel that I have a better grasp on what our brave men and women do everyday to protect and serve our country. I am so proud of each and every person who serves. It takes a lot of strength (mental, physical, and spiritual) to do what you do.
God Bless all of you.

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