How Not To Ship Your Stuff Home From A Combat Zone

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Our field engineers have the job of going out to the Army and Marine units who have fielded our system and help them get set up, train the operators, perform troubleshooting, and basically serve as a conduit between the troops and the technical staff here in Fort Wayne. This past week we've had Homecoming, where all the field engineers come to Fort Wayne and compare notes on what they've seen since the last Homecoming. Generally, these briefings talk about what works well, what doesn't, and what the soldiers in the field want. As a technical lead engineer, I'm also invited to the briefings to share in the no-shit hot skinny. Since we deployed several people into Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan in the past year, this Homecoming's hot skinny included several war stories, most of which I can't repeat for one reason or another. Here's one I can.

One of our field engineers (let's call him Fred; also, I've changed some details to protect the more-or-less-innocent) deployed to Kuwait with a unit before Operation Iraqi Freedom started. He was doing his field engineer thing when the unit's commanding officer came into his tent and said "We're going over the berm [crossing into Iraq] in 24 hours. You get to carry one duffel bag worth of stuff; ship everything else home. Your laptop has to go home, too."

Fred commandeered a ToughBox (reusable hard plastic shipping container) and dumped all his extra stuff into it - laptop, clothes, documentation he wouldn't need, etc. He finished packing and asked another field engineer (let's call him Ralph; Ralph was deployed with a different unit that wasn't going over the berm anytime soon) to ship it back home for him. Since they couldn't say where they were or where they were going due to security concerns, Ralph just shipped the box back to Fred's house without telling anybody where or why.

Imagine how Fred's wife felt when she arrived home from work a few days later and saw a ToughBox with Fred's personal effects - and no explanation - on her front porch.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris published on October 17, 2003 1:05 PM.

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