The Poop Kit

OP Omar, Kharmah, Iraq, 2007.

Fanatical insurgents brandishing AKs and RPGs! Diabolical bomb makers concocting recipes for home made explosives! Suicidal zealots handcuffed to steering wheels of trucks laden with explosives barreling down a one way street to Gehenna! These are the dangers most often associated with deployments to hostile environments in the 21st Century.

Lesser known are the predatory varmints insidiously slithering, buzzing, and barking  about us on patrol or merely hovering nearby while we ineffectually bathe out of a canteen cup.

Those horrors are well documented here and other places and we thankfully need not dwell on them again today.  No, I speak today of one of the most daunting experiences anyone deployed overseas in a combat zone has had to endure. Even the fiercest war heroes have blanched at confronting this villainy. Yes friends, I speak of the biological abomination that is the porta-john. 

At OP Omar the porta-johns were firmly sandbagged and in cover. Not for the protection of possible occupants, but to protect passers by from the denizens dwelling within the depths. These were known to occasionally snatch the unwary. 

Upon breaking the hatch of a porta-john one was never sure which would assault the senses first; the stench of the roiling contents or the swarm of flies just as eager to escape. Futilely, some would gulp a lung full of air before entering. I never met anyone who was able to last though.

During the summer, the atmosphere inside was akin to an abandoned sauna. Touching any bare skin to the inside surface was as risky as it was unavoidable in such a confined space. Not to mention the flies unfortunate to be sharing the space with you. There was neither rest nor room to be had. 

Then our Forward Air Controller, a helo pilot with the call sign ‘Dong’, improvised a piece of equipment which would transform our entire deployment.  If ever there were a group of people dedicated to making life suck less, it’s Air Wingers.

Dong & A1S. Who’s awesome? You’re awesome!

One fine day Dong produced what he proudly called the Poop Kit. It contained a number of items designed to significantly reduce the unbridled barbarity of the porta-john experience.

What were the items? A screwdriver, a can of aerosol deodorant, baby wipes, and hand sanitizer.

The screwdriver was used to lock the door of the porta-john with the broken lock.  The logic here being no one used the broken john so the likelihood of touching down where 200 other buttocks already had was minimal. Once inside, Dong would insert the screwdriver into the broken door handle mechanism and viola! Privacy assured.

Dong would open the hatch wide and stand outside spraying his can of deodorant into the john before entering. This would send the occupying flies buzzing for cover as the air was replaced with aerosol spray. It also had the added benefit of taking the edge off  the heady odors within.

Baby wipes were used on every surface that had the remotest possibility of coming into contact with human skin.

Hand sanitizer; we probably used so much of this during the deployment it may have made us all sterile.

Dong demonstrates the proper application of the Poop Kit’s contents

Praise and glory were heaped on Dong’s name for the introduction of the Poop Kit by the few of us who adopted its use. Military historians have so far not recorded this ingenious item as we pretty much kept it to ourselves. After all, we wouldn’t want EVERYONE using the porta john with broken lock now would we?

Semper Fidelis,
America’s 1stSgt

/ / / /


  1. Note to self, stop reading your blog while i finish cooking dinner.
    This morning i never imagined i’d learn before the day’s end about how American military personnel overcame defacatory difficulties whilst deployed.
    There’s an old Chinese proverb about learning: “Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere”. Much like the exotic aroma of the porta-john, perhaps…

  2. I firmly believe that the porta-john experience could be improved if the local nationals relieved themselves elsewhere. I’m not trying to be mean, but I’ve never seen a U.S. servicemember walk out of the porta-john with arms blue up to the elbows, or gone in after a servicemember and found footprints on the seat.

  3. Too violent? Is the PAO a Marine or a kindergarden teacher? I’m confused.
    I’m thinking Dong had a FANTASTIC mother because this sounds like me when the heathens have to go and it’s bad manners to find a nice tree. Purses carry A LOT of excellent gear.

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