It’s fairly slow here today. So I was cruising some of the usual sites looking for blog fodder, and came across this pic.


And what occurred to me was this- in the age of Hesco barriers, there are still a lot of places that have to be fortified with the old fashioned sandbag.

Let me tell you, filling and emplacing that many sandbags is an enormous pain in the ass. Few jobs in the Army are as dull or surprisingly backbreaking as filling and emplacing sandbags. Mind you, it’s all worth it. It just isn’t any fun to do it. So when I saw that mound of bags, my old aches and pains in my back and shoulders twitched just a bit.

When I was working at brigade headquarters, we deployed for training to Hoehenfels once. Among the other fun things we did, we put a sandbag wall around the Tactical Operations Center (TOC). How many sandbags? Oh, several thousand at least. Now, brigade headquarters are long on officers, and short on enlisted. So there were a relative handful of us that were filling and flinging these things.  My boss, LTC Oz, being sensitive to the morale of the troops, decreed that everyone that entered or exited the TOC would henceforth fill and emplace a sandbag- coming and going. It wasn’t much, but it was a nice gesture to let us underlings know that we were not forgotten.

Oddly, he didn’t have many problems getting the staff officers (and the brigade commander, COL Z) to comply. But the staff NCOs seemed to think they were magically exempt from this requirement. Well, the Sergeant Major, CSM McK, finally put an end to that foolishness.

And I think some of my fellow sandbag fillers took just a little too much glee in pointing out the entry requirement to the division commander when he stopped by for a visit. Good sport that he was, the General complied, sorta. His aide, a sharply dressed First Lieutenant got to toss TWO bags on the pile.

Close enough for me.

6 thoughts on “PITA”

  1. We had a program going in Ramadi callled “Operation Jamestown” (work for food). Same deal, big pile of sand, a big bundle of empty sandbags, and multiple shovels right outside the chow hall. Fill your bag, throw it on a PLS flatrack, and in to eat. No bag, no eat; regardless of rank.
    Craig, you are so correct; many people don’t turn the bag the right way before filling it.

  2. Hm…synthetic or burlap??

    Well, having filled more than my share, I prefer the burlap. No, I never served, but living in PR meant dealing with hurricanes and flooding rivers at the drop of a sombrero. I was eight years old when the river by my grandparent’s rose over 30 feet, and my grandfather had us out filling the bags, INSIDE OUT (He was a retired Sergeant). Burlap has a distinct earthy smell, almost soporific and soothing. It was hard work, but I liked the monotony of it.

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