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.

ONE STEP CLOSER TO HOME |

March 01, 2010

ONE STEP CLOSER TO HOME
Name: Six Foot Skinny
Posting date: 3/1/10
Returning from: Iraq
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Milblog: Lost in the Desert

White lights blink and go dark, replaced immediately by red ones. Engine noises increase in pitch and volume. The aircraft lurches forwards as it slips its breaks. We all lean towards the back -- my right -- as the C-17 accelerates down the runway. We remain fixed that way while the pilot gains altitude. I look at my buddy, smile, bump fists, and we are gone. Gone from Iraq. Forever.

I can’t say that it was a joyous occasion. The excitement has been building steadily for the last week as we packed bags, made trips to the post office, and cleaned our CHUs. When you’ve been bracing for catastrophe for a year or longer, the absence of that weight is not cause for joy. Just relief. So as we rose over Baghdad I wasn’t ecstatic. I smiled, I do that sometimes. But mostly I just took a deep breath and tried to get comfortable in my seat for the one-hour flight to Kuwait. Which is where I am now but not for too much longer.

As happy as I am to be here in Kuwait, I had somehow forgotten my deep loathing for this place. I am sure there are nice parts, but I’ve never seen them. At this point, Kuwait’s only redeeming quality is its status as “closer to home than Iraq.” We are in the middle of the desert. Actual desert. Sand and wind and heat. As I said once before, all the fun of the beach without that lousy water. Another tour -- my last -- done, almost. We’ll head back to Ft. McCoy and get off the plane in the beauty of Midwestern winter. It’s 28 and sunny in Wisconsin right now, and it sounds lovely.

We’ll be there for a couple of days. Long enough to make sure that we don’t have tuberculosis, check paperwork one more time, and do a final medical screen. We also have to turn in some gear -- including our weapons. My M4 carbine has been a constant companion for almost a year. I will not miss it. There are lot of things I won’t miss, maybe I’ll make a list for a later post: “Things Skinny Doesn’t Miss About the Army.” For now though, I am a little apprehensive. I have a lot to do when I get home. I have to get back to life.

The Dane counts this deployment from June 10, 2008. That’s the day I came home from Ft. Irwin, CA, and told her that I would be returning to Iraq. It is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do and now I will never have to do it again. That’s the day our lives went on hold. House plans on hold. Career moves on hold. Engagement plans on hold. Life on hold. And now, we have to start it up again.

For now, we eat until we’re sleepy, and sleep until we’re hungry and we wait. But soon, very, very soon, I will take my seat on a DC-10. I’ll feel the engines spool up, lean back in my seat, rise out of the Kuwaiti desert (one ‘s’), smile, and take a deep breath.

Comments

Welcome home Soldier -- :)

checked your blog and saw you're home.welcome back. glad you and your guys made it back safe.i remember leaving nam in 69.besides body parts, i left a fair piece of my "soul,self" there also. and too many brothers.settling back in can be hard. feel free to drop me a line,if a problem or question arises. bopdun@aol.com

Welcome home soldier. Don't wait too long before taking plans off hold (I got engaged about a month of my return :-) )

Welcome home. You deserve the best for going over there, that from a Vietnam vet who wishes you'd--we'd--never gone to Iraq!

Don't forget to visit www.vetsuccess.gov once you get to veteran status! There is lots of information for veterans about all of your benefits and entitlements. Welcome home, Skinny...we kept the lights on for you!

Why do people live in the desert? If the conditions are so harsh
(heat, drought, famine), why not leave the desert for better areas to
live? (Details would be appreciated about different reasons. Also nice
would be authoritative sources that address this issue.)

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