The long holiday weekend starts tonight after final formation and there will...
Ranger Up Book Reviews – Letters from the Sand Box
All too often I pick up a book and within the first 10-15 minutes put it down because I can’t stand the style of writing. It is either written in a manner that is over-descriptive or utilizes words that an abnormal, somewhat jaded, infantryman cannot understand. Occasionally, and it is a rarity, I will stumble upon something that I absolutely cannot put down and will read it cover-to-cover. Such is the case with “Letters from the Sand Box” by Charles Meier. I liked this book so much that I thought you just may like it as well, being that you are all a little jacked in your own sense.
Right after I finished the book I contacted Charles (Chuck or Big Daddy is what he prefers) via email to set up a phone interview. This was about 8:00 am and it usually takes a couple of days for a response back, if any. At about 12:30pm my phone rings and when I answer it is Chuck on the line. The first thing I notice is that he sounded like he just rolled out of bed after a long night of… well I can’t be too sure to be honest with you. Anyways, he sounded rough and freely admitted to being up into the wee hours of the morning, but withholding all of the pertinent information, like what he was actually doing. We spoke for a good 45 minutes, with me laughing most of the time, ended the call and I am sure he passed out…again.
The book itself is a collection of emails and letters sent home while Chuck was working as a contractor in Iraq from 2003-2006. Chuck starts out telling his life story and just how he ended up being a contractor in the first place. It is quite funny to read the journey from small town Texas through a seven year stint as Navy search and rescue, DJ- bouncer and manager of a strip club, college student and fireman/police diver and SWAT team member. Did I mention that he also claims to be a pilot and minister as well?
One thing that is an obvious theme to the book, Chuck is as physically large as his personality (6’4” 320lbs to be exact). Looking at the pictures, he appears to be a modern day Viking and makes numerous references at how much trouble he had in “blending in” with the local populace in Iraq. Some of the descriptions will leave you in stiches in his no-holds-barred view of Iraq and just how f’d up both the military and the Iraqi’s are. If you are looking for a candy coated view of what was really going on there, do not pick-up this book.
Big Daddy also has a way with words, or should I say spelling. When the book was being readied for publishing he would receive a copy from his editors only to reject it because everything was spelled correctly and grammatically correct. I must agree that part of the appeal to this book is that it is written by an infantryman trapped in a contractors body and is conveyed as such. A perfect example of this is when Chuck refers to the local Iraqi males as “hodgie” instead of “haji”. It is the little things like this throughout the book that will make you smile and chuckle as you read it.
As Chuck describes it, Letters from the Sand Box is the perfect read while sitting on the shitter. There is a twist at the end that will leave you in awe at his strength and willingness to live life to the fullest and he will do it in a sense that will have you pissing your pants in laughter. While I don’t want to reveal it all, let’s just say there is reference to a “leg lamp”, you know, like the one in “A Christmas Story”.
I recommend Letters from the Sand Box to you for its simple yet powerful message. Chuck quotes a toast that one of his SEAL buddies taught him and I believe it is fitting: “I have been around the world twice, talked to everyone once. I have seen two white whales screw and a monkey try and fuck a football. I’ve been to Maine, Spain and Spokane. I know a man with a marble head and a wooden cock. I’m a lover, fighter, a rooten, tooten, hooten, looten, skydiver, I drink everything from rum to cum….Every day is a blessing, every meal is a feast, Every sunrise the promise of a new adventure to come, every sunset a little break in the action. And I am the one-legged man in the ass kicking contest.”
While there are only 156 pages to this book, the message you will receive is priceless. You can find Letters from the Sandbox on Amazon. RU Rob recommends it.