The Little Blue Box

Updated: December 3, 2012

by RU Rob

Whoever came up with the idea for a port-a-potty should be given a freaking Nobel Peace Prize for both ingenuity and comedic genius. Never in the history of man has a seemingly simple contraption both eased the pain and suffering of many a Marine and Soldier yet inconvenienced them into suffering and setting up the most hilarious scenarios EVER!

As an introduction we must first properly identify the terminology of the item we are referring to. Cue the port-a-potty, port-a-shitter, out-house, stink-box, shit-shack, jack-box, or whatever you may call it. They come in many sizes and shapes but they all usually stink and have mysterious objects floating in the bottom of them. Some are created so that another ingenious device, the shitter sucker, can come and magically remove the excrement with one sweep of the powerful vacuum yet others must have the MRE reincarnates burned, much to the chagrin of the NCO’s and the dismay of the enlisted.

These little magical marvels of engineering are like the 82nd Airborne, they can relocate to anywhere in the world in under 72 hours to become your drop-zone! They can be ratchet-strapped to any vehicle in our arsenal or delivered via land, sea or air by any one of the billion-dollar contractors we have all come to love. Either way, they seem to appear from a mystical-mist, standing side-by-side in their effervescent-blue-water-glory and become a wonderful, colorful reference point for our enemies who are adjusting indirect fire while we so eloquently relieve ourselves.

As a frequent visitor to places without standard plumbing, I can recall one particular incident that was just too funny to be true. It all started in the quiet country side of Germany. My company was conducting an air-mobile raid and had set up the pick-up zone in a large clearing on a gently sloping, grassy hill. There was a dirt road running down the middle of the field and just like there would be in an actual combat zone (not really but you could imagine), there were a line of about 10 shitters just off the road. The entire company was moving in one lift and we had 15 Blackhawks coming for the pick-up. As is very typical with the infantry, we were in position hours before the actual mission was supposed to kick off and we were running our rehearsals.

About 30 minutes before the actual time of arrival we were given the go ahead to clear our bowels and bladders before we left as it would be a good bit of time before we would have another opportunity. Most of us headed into the wood-line to relieve ourselves standing style and the sitters headed to towards the blue thrones. Eventually everyone returned to their proper locations except for one, he just seemed to have a jump refusal and was taking a bit longer than expected in the crystal cathedral. It was then that we started to hear the familiar thump-thump-thump of the rotors in the distance. Immediately, everyone started rucking up and getting ready (they were actually about 20 minutes early, the ONLY time I can ever remember an Aviation unit being early), and soon the first bird came screaming-in.

Apparently, the unit tasked with supporting us had decided that they too were going to get some training and were coming in hot and fast with a quick flare at the end as they set down. For those of you who have had the opportunity to witness this, it is pretty freaking awesome to see a hulk of a helicopter go from light speed to nothing in a matter of seconds. The only problem with this, is that it also creates a huge amount of prop-wash, momentary hurricane force winds, multiplied by the number if aircraft, that will knock you on your ass or in this case, knock a port-a-potty over. And that is exactly what it did.

The entire company was watching when the shitters collectively were thrown around like plastic lawn furniture in a tornado. We knew there was someone in them, but didn’t know which one. As squad leaders were getting the final count before we loaded –up it was obvious that one soldier was missing. The shitters strewn across the field like small blue icebergs in a sea of green grass. Soon, an entire squad was checking each one while the rest of us were staring in disbelief and laughing our asses off. Finally they found the subject of their quest, it seems that when his house of poo had tipped, it tipped over – on the door, essentially trapping the unlucky occupant in what started as a tranquil deposit of waste and turned into house of horror. The squad quickly converged on the house of ill smell and rolled the structure over only to have the unlucky soldier emerge completely covered in….well you can just imagine how bad it really was.
Knowing the commander was starting to get pissed that we were going to be late making the start time, everyone rushed back to their load points….even the one-who-has-no-luck.

Unfortunately for him, the chopper crew chiefs had disembarked and had witnessed the entire fiasco, and through their body movements you could tell that they were dying inside….until the soldier started making his way to his designated bird. That crew chief went from laughing to dead serious…waving off the soldier and his gear as if to say “there is no way in fucking hell, I am letting you ride in my chariot of the sky!” The soldier, now confused and dejected, looked to his team leader for guidance. The team leader just pointed to where the Executive Officer was standing (he never gets to do anything cool) and motioned for the soldier to head that way. We had our first casualty and hadn’t even left yet. Henceforth, the soldier was referred to as Private Poo and as he was promoted, Specialist Shitter. I am sure that he is probably still seeking psychotherapy for that little incident to this day.

I have heard many a jack-box story over the years and have seen the chaos created by Soldiers with too much time on their hands. What is the funniest thing you have ever witnessed happen with our friend, the little blue box?

Oh and one last thing…don’t eat the big white mints!




  1. Lucille Hill

    January 10, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Qudos Rob! Loved the “Little Blue Box” story…I know a couple but this is definitely one for the memory book and stories to set you in stitches after having a few too many drinks. In Australia, they are
    sometimes referred to as a “thunder box”…my parents-in-law have a great story whereby one day, having run out of the usual chemical to do the cleanout, my mum-in-law (then a newly wed) threw some shellite (naphhtha) in the hole. My dad-in-law came home from work, went to the thunderbox smoking a cigarette (like all good firemen). Long and the short of it is, when he finished his business and the cigarette, he threw the cigarette down and the rest is as they say, “history”….put a new meaning to “fire in the hole”….my mum-in-law said there was an almighty roar, the thunderbox was demolished in seconds and my dad-in-law came out on all fours with singed eyebrows, and singed body hair in general and covered in you-know-what. To his question, “are you trying to kill me woman?”, my mum-in-law’s reply was hysterical laughter and even now, when she tells the story, the tears come to her eyes…such is a woman’s sympathy. Anyway, thanks. Your story set the mood for my day 🙂 Regards

  2. Bill Trolinger 19D U.S.Army Retired

    January 11, 2012 at 1:38 am

    A few years back my Platoon of scouts was conducting a night recon out
    at the NTC, it was a five hour mission and there was tanks and APC’s running around with blackouts on. While my troops were out on their mission I booby-trapped our AA including the Shitter, when I went and picked them up from the rally point they were dog tired and happy the recon was over. We reached our area and as they dismounted they hit the trip witres and like good scouts they reacted to the attack and did a fine job of it, finally when it was over one of the troops headed for the shitter and when he sat down there was a thunderous boom and everyone just stood and stared as he came out then they all looked back to where I was standing and I was long gone as he had his knife in his hand and was very pissed off, I stayed gone til the next day when he finally settled down, he came and told me that he had done that to another guy a year before so he had it coming.

  3. Antonio Aguilar

    January 13, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Too funny; and don’t forget to mention they are also the message boards of the FOB. Ah the things that get written there…

  4. Josh Loner

    December 3, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    We liked to play a little game called “smurf ass”. Drop a can of near beer down the exhaust tube and bam we got a winner. Was pretty good till we got the Platoon Sergeant. Then after a couple hours of sugar cookies we didnt think it was that fun anymore.

  5. Brett

    December 4, 2012 at 11:22 am

    This story just caused the interruption of a college lecture; well worth it.

  6. Dave

    December 4, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    I have to say up front that I didn’t witness this personally, but those who claimed to have been there swear it is true.

    When the ill-conceived DIVAD gun system was going through proving trials at White Sands, they kept flying a UH-1 drone in front of it. The high-tech system (designed to instantaneously lock-on to spinning rotors with its radar and swat Hinds from the sky with its 40 mm guns) was having a little trouble on aquisition. Suddenly, and before the contractors could intervene, the system woke up, shook the cobwebs off, slewed around, and proceeded to blow a Port-A-John into next week. Subsequent investigation revealed that the spinning exhaust fan in the top of the former toilet was likely mistaken for the rotors of a Hind by the computers.

    Again, I personally did not witness this…but the system was never fielded.

  7. Heavy Metal 34

    December 6, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Being in the Army National Guard and in the Infantry I have quite a many of stories relating to the port-a-shitters.

    One in particular happened during one AT (the 3 week FTX aka field problems for those of you in the big army) where my mortars platoon was tasked to run the whole indirect fire for the battalion integrated fire missions. SO we had to hole up in the middle of the woods for 2 weeks and between about 30+ people there were only about 6 of the blue thrones… and they were positioned to our dismay right smack in front of the FDC and command truck.

    So, for those of you who were ever in charge of anyone, there are ways of getting even with Joes. I’ll spare you the details but it escalated over the weeks of being isolated and constantly around the same people. So command started to put sticks where a lock would go, thus locking a soldier in the tomb, and proceeded to take a boot to the door. It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt right? Wrong, then it gets hilarious.

    Well that’s what happened. It escalated to running full force and flailing the whole body into the door, thus allowing one Joe in particular to hit his head on the back of the throne. But the best part is, over the weeks the pump truck came only once, so the pile-o-shit was so high the Joe wiped his ass with his own excrement when he got rocked.

    Moral of the story… everyone was looking at me like I was crazy taking a field-dump after the first week of lock-ins and rockings, but once that shit literally piled up, I wasn’t the crazy one anymore.

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