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.

HEY BRAH |

March 29, 2014

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

On 17 May 1996 I arrived to my unit in Schweinfurt Germany. After pulling a slick one (story told in an earlier blog entry) I was assigned my room on the 3rd floor of building 9A, Conn Barracks. Everyone remembers their first roommate when they graduate from Basic and get to their unit, and I will never forget mine. Laid back surfer would be putting it mildly. He took me in and showed me the ropes like we had been friends for a lifetime. We were in the same platoon for a while, and both held a serious disliking of our Platoon Sergeant, SFC. Although he would get fired up and pissed about the way our Platoon Sergeant treated him, after work, he was the same, laid back surfer...

“Hey Brah” was his name for everyone. With his trimmed mustache and outgoing personality, he was always smiling and showing off his nicotine-stained front tooth (which he later had fixed). He got along with everyone, and became a friend of my wife and her friends. No matter the situation, or what club we would go to (hard core techno, house, rock, country), he fit in, but didn’t care if he did. He had an awesome Roadrunner F1 tattoo on his arm. He purchased an Ibanez Performer guitar and really wanted to learn but gave up after a few months and sold me the guitar. It’s still in the family (gifted to a cousin). Guitar playing he said “wasn’t for me Brah.” Laid back surfer...

For the first two years of my career, my laid back surfer buddy was always around. We deployed to Bosnia together, and although we ended up being in different platoons, we kept in touch. Returning from deployment, he was with me when I met my wife. We remained close friends but as my priorities turned to my wife, we drifted apart. Laid back surfer…

He loved the Army, and loved Germany. His ability to pick up on the language was much better than mine. Nothing like a surfer speaking German. A laid back surfer…

He remained in Germany when I moved to Ft. Hood for a year. Upon my return to Schweinfurt Germany a year later, he was still there but had moved to Alpha Company. By this time, I was married and had moved into an apartment with my wife. Although I would see him around Battalion, I was usually busy and unable, no, unwilling to take time out of my day to talk with him. The laid back surfer…

He deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II. Kicked ass and took names. We were in different areas of the country, attached to different units. I think I ran into him a couple times. We returned from deployment, both of us had done what it took to stay in Germany. We didn’t keep in touch as much as we should have. The laid back surfer…

Getting ready for Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08, he was selected to serve on the Personal Security Detachment (PSD). We were once again in the same company. I would run into him, this time on a more frequent basis, but again I wouldn’t take the time to spend a few extra minutes hanging with the laid back surfer.

I look back and kick myself in the ass for not spending more time with him. This earth needs more kind, considerate, and friendly people like him. On January 30, 2007 his life was taken from this world. The PSD was reacting to a large cache of weapons that were found in a building by another element. As his vehicle rolled down an unfamiliar route, a large IED went off, killing him instantly. As the date of his death approaches I am ashamed for not spending more time hanging out with him. He was good people. From this day forward I will make it a point to spend that extra few minutes to chat with friends and to not let them drift away like I did with him.

Rest in peace Sergeant Corey Aultz, you are missed by many. I will see you at the Fiddlers Green where I am sure you will greet me with a wide toothy grin and a laid back surfer “Hey Brah!”

 

1SG Gibson's numerous Sandbox posts include The Battle of Donkey IslandGetting Chilly, NightmareDon't Expect What You Don't Inspect, Music!, and What I Miss.

Comments

I am so sorry for your loss of a friend and comrade. This story brought tears to my eyes and makes me so thankful for the people willing to give their lives for ours. Praying for everyone there.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you so much for your sacrifices. Even when the world seems to not support you, I'll support our troops! Keep your head up!

Reading your story was very. I am very thankful that people like your friend, and you for going out putting your live in danger to fight for our country. I'm sorry to hear about the lost of your friend. Thank you fir severing our country.

It sucks to lose a friend. It sucks even worse to lose a best friend. Sometimes things are taken from us that shouldn't be, we just have to remember that everything happens for a reason. I hope you grow stronger. Thank you for your service.

I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I dont know what I would do if I lost a friend. I appreciate you sharing your story, and thank you for your service.

I am so sorry about your loss. My heart goes out to you and all of the other brave people serving and making sacrifices for our country. Thank you for your service.

I know someone who went through something very similar to what you went through, and I see it weigh heavy on them every day. It's never easy loosing someone you were close to. I feel for you and want you to now that the pain will never go away, but it does get a little easier. Never take time with loved ones forgranted. As long as you never forget him, he will never truely be gone.

I am sorry that you didn't get to connect with your friend before his death. Your story reminded me to get in contact with some old friends I still think about. It seems like everyday life can give you enough excuses to not do something but this is a good reminder to not take things for granted. Thank you for sharing this story, it has really made me appreciate the friends I should have kept close.

Im so sorry to hear you lost an amazing friend. This story brough me tears to my eyes. Thank you so for your bravery.

Hey man, I'm sorry for your loss. Even if you didn't spend time with him towards the end, I am sure he still considered you a friend. If he was the way he sounds, he would probably say "No worries Brah." He wouldn't want you worked up over such a trivial thing as not spending much time with him. I have a friend named Steve Hart who is a really good guy. I haven't spent much time with him or even called him. I think I will after reading this. Thank you for all you.

What a wonderful tribute. Even though you were unable to go back and change anything (we never can) I really love that you took the time to pay tribute to your fallen comrade. I felt like I got to know him just a little bit. I agree with the prior post. he was "laid back" as you say and probably never felt snubbed by you. I enjoyed reading this. But, I can honestly say that I knew where it was headed when I began it. Still, I honor you for taking the time to write this in such a detailed, poignant and sometimes humorous way. Sergeant Corey Aultz is definitely smiling down on you. God Bless you and Keep you!

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