“Let me explain to you what it’s like to be truly filthy. If you spend more than a week outside at a time, especially in a combat environment, you get so filthy that when I lay in my bed now all clean and warm, it makes my skin crawl and I feel like I need to scrub my skin.

During prolonged combat, the sweat from your body soaks into your clothing…day after day. So much sweat and salt is basically baked into your uniform that it turns it a yellowish brown color and turns the already not very soft material into more of a cardboard. Your sleeves make a pow crunching sound when you contract your arms.

Your neck, chest, balls, back, everything is coated in a thin layer or dried sweat mixed with dirt. If you rub your hand on your skin, it pulls off like a black, salty tasting play dough type of substance. It’s absolutely disgusting and a single shower won’t get rid of it all.

My least favorite is waking up. Your clothing is still damp from the sweat the day before and now it’s cold. It’s like putting on a filthy, damp, dish cloth and walking around in it. Your shoulders are all bruised and raw from carrying gear. Your misery compounded by dehydration and knowing that this is reality for you now. You can’t escape it. You just have to endure it. After a while, you stop caring.

And on top of all that? Your wife is probably cheating on you and everyone who isn’t dressed like you is trying to kill you.”

– Anonymous US Soldier. Invasion of Iraq. 2003.


This story was documented by Battles and Beers. Every soldier has a story, and every story deserves to be told.

Hundreds of stories just like this are now available in my book, “What War Did To Us” which is now available on Amazon.