The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

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March 22, 2010

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Name: Six Foot Skinny
Posting date: 3/22/10
Returning from: Iraq
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Milblog: Lost in the Desert

Kuwait: still hot, still flat, still full of sand. And waiting. Ft. McCoy: lines and civilian contract workers and paperwork and waiting and gestures of thanks and goodbye. I probably won’t see many of these people ever again. Late night, early morning, buses. Two coach buses take some of us back to Marquette, Michigan. Two buses take some of us back to Ellsworth, Wisconsin. And then later, after I’m gone, buses take the rest to the airport where they fly home to Oklahoma City. I am on the Ellsworth buses. Three hours west of McCoy. Three hours on the bus for the last time.

We meet a county sheriff when we get off 94 and then another squad car, an ambulance, and a fire truck just outside town. They cut all the kids out of school for the afternoon and they line the streets, waving flags and cheering -- either for us or for the joy of not being in class. There are old men in hats, saluting and waving again -- just as they did when we left. The fire department has hung another giant flag over the road and we drive under it. And then there’s the drill center. Looking as it did when we left.  Cinder block buildings that used to be a car dealership. We drive by, go a couple of blocks farther into town, turn around, and come back.

There’s Mom. Dad. The Steps. The Dane. Broser, Sisser, Bubba, and Benjor. Friends. Hugs and tears and handshakes and more hugs and pictures and then we’re gone. Me and The Dane. In the car and headed back to Minneapolis. Back to our apartment. That was Thursday, now it’s Monday. I’m sitting at the little breakfast bar drinking good coffee and enjoying a little time to myself. The Dane went back to work today so it’s just me.

I know I have things to do. Have to go file my DD 214 and see the County Veterans Service Officer. Have to go pick up some of the boxes I mailed to Mom’s. Have to unpack. Have to go to Target. It’s weird, but good. Although I’m not wearing that damn uniform anymore, I am wearing more or less my civilian uniform -- jeans and a t-shirt. I have to drive to get much of anywhere while I am used to walking everywhere. The food’s good here, really good. I can have a beer if I want to, but I think I’ll wait until five for that.

The part that throws me is that it’s all the same. My friends are all still doing the same jobs. My family’s still crazy. I still hate doing dishes. I know I’ve changed but I’m still figuring out just what that means. I am no longer the crazy-informed political guy that reads three or four newspapers every day, that guy got left in Iraq somewhere. I am no longer a Soldier. No longer a squad leader. Now I’m just a veteran. Just that young man who might walk by you on the street and make you think, “There’s something different about him.” Sometimes it’s because we stand up straighter, but that’s not me. I’m a terrible slouch. A confidence perhaps? I don’t know. It’s certainly not my haircut. When I wrote that I'd had my last haircut, that was it. I’m a little shagged out now, at least for me. I’m still settling in. Still getting used to not being in charge of anything. Still getting used to being home. I’m home. And my troops are home. And we all made it. Safe. And that’s happy. Very happy. 

Framed Skinny and the Dane

Skinny and The Dane.

Comments

Welcome Home!

Hooah Skinny! I'm very happy for you and the Dane. Thanks for sharing your story.

Welcome home, Skinny! Be sure to check out www.vetsuccess.gov for veteran information!

so happy for you all! and thank you for your sevice.

Welcome home! You will feel different for a while, kind of out of place. You said it: time pretty much stood still there for you. Everyone you left is the same, is doing the same things. You went off for a year and saw and did things that no one you left can fathom. It'll take some time to get back into the groove of being a civilian. Good luck!

Your blog is so nice.I am impressed with your vivid expression.I will bookmarked you…keep up the good work!!!!

We sometimes do Welcome Home Escorts (Patriot Guard. We're usually near the Fire and Police units). Exactly how we like them; Everybody back safely. Legs and limbs intact. Sanity intact. Marriage intact. Job, maybe, intact.

Oh, yeah. DO NOT expect people to have a clue. It helped me to focus on the fact that we served, that they might remain forever clueless. So why let a few clueless -- note the unawareness that bathes their existance in a dull myopic blur -- folks dominate your reality?

Exhault, that you were out past the paved roads and streetlights, and lived to tell the tale. Consider remaining mindful, alert, and forgiving of your lesser bretheren.

After all, you fought so they would not HAVE TO, have a clue. You'd think there's some pride in a job well done. Or, at least, so seemingly successful.

Welcome home. You'll be a little out-of-touch at first. Give it time. Your nerves and reactions are good things. They just need time to adapt to the peace and plenty you and yours so righteously deserve.

Hi, Okay so I'm getting my haircut before school starts & I'm not sure what haircut to get...
I have light brown hair about 2-3 inches below my shoulders.
I have an oval shaped face.
I don't want to cut a lot off my hair.
If you need anymore information just ask =)
THANKS

is it cute?
and i'll probably curl it everyday like that, but i was wondering how someone with side bangs (me) (they come down to the bottom of my ear, so a little shorter than my chin) could curl it like hers is. should i just curl the layers or what?
help! :)

This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. This is very nice one and gives information that is needed on this critical topic. Hard to find such blogs. Keep it up. Keep blogging.

Kuwait still not safe for our soldiers.

Nice post! Its is a combined idea post of people in position and that I think what makes it interesting for me.

This is unique and antic suff which is very attractive and useful. I am so proud to vote for this beautiful and informative blog

Thanks for your article, very useful information. I fully agree with anything you've printed here.

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