Lost in the Desert

It's like 'dessert,' but with one 's,' because it sucks.

six foot skinny

six foot skinny
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
December 31
Dad in Chief
The Man
Six Foot Skinny is a veteran of the war in Iraq who now lives in St. Paul with The Dane and The Dude.


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MARCH 1, 2010 1:31PM


Rate: 71 Flag

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, busses.  Two coach busses take some of us back to Marquette, Michigan.  Two busses take some of us back to Ellsworth, Wisconsin.  And then later, after I’m gone, busses take the rest to the airport where they fly home to Oklahoma City.  I am on the Ellsworth busses.  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 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. 

 Skinny and The Dane

 Skinny and The Dane

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home, iraq, milblog, kuwait

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Welcome home, skinny. Great to have you back.
Skinny, glad to hear you are home and safe. I've enjoyed following your posts, you write very well.
you should think about compiling your pieces into a book---you are a talented writer...welcome back
Welcome home, skinny. I love your posts. Keep writing.

The only comparison I have in my own life was going back to work after three months of maternity leave. I had changed so much in three months. Everything about me changed. My life had done a complete about-face in every imaginable way. But when I went back to work, they were all the same. Still talking about the same things, sitting in the same places, working on the same projects. It was the oddest dissonance I've ever experienced.

Keep writing. And welcome home.
Welcome home.
Thank you.
And we're all happy you are home safe as well.
I'm looking forward to hearing more. Welcome back and enjoy some fried things.
so happy you are home and safe.
Well... I've got tears in my eyes. So glad you all made it back. Enjoy the coffee and the beer and your life. You write so beautifully.
This is just ... eloquent. Only word I can think of. Glad you're back home safely, Skinny.

And there's no such thing as "just" a veteran.
Congrats on being home. I hope that you keep writing as you adjust to being back in the old familiar places.
YAY!!!! And welcome back!! So glad you and your troops are safe. Now that I've seen your picture, if I see you at a coffee shop here in the Twin Cities I'll say hello.
Welcome back and thanks!
Delighted that you're back. I think my son and so many, many others would tell you they felt the same...difference. Keep writing. Love to hear it.
Very glad to read this one! Thanks again for your service, and welcome home! And as you now begin to relax and experience what it is to be a combat veteran, remember this: The DAV (Disabled American Veterans) will be there for you like no other organization on earth, and you don't have to be disabled or a member for them to do that. For now, just relax, and let it all sink in. It'll take time. Probably more time than you could ever guess. But through it all, you can hold your head up. You were there when your country asked. And no one can ever take that away.
Welcome home and Thank You for Your Service : )
So glad you are home Skinny....Maybe not as glad as The Dane.
welcome home, Skinny. I hope to buy you a beer some day soon, and for your service, I'll even wash your dishes for you!
Welcome home and Thank You for honoring us with your service! :)
Glad you're back.
Skinny, this made me so happy. Please keep writing.
Welcome Home Skinny, I am so very happy for you and your family, I was always frightened in a little place down deep you might not make it. Love,
Love this. Welcome home!
Welcome home and thanks._r
Welcome home and a job well done.
Wow guys. Thanks, as always, for reading and caring. It has meant a lot to know that I have this whole crew of people I've never met pulling for me this year. I will continue to write, so keep an eye out for me. Cheers from MN!!

That IS happy- very happy.

I haven't read your other posts but now I know what I'll do some quiet night.
Thank You. It is more of a relief than I thought possible to have you back.

Welcome home Skinny. Thank you for your service and for keeping your men safe and sound. We all missed you...almost as much as the Dane. When will we get your skinny self up to the Cove?
Welcome home, and thanks.
So very thankful you are home and safe. Best to you!
Welcome home, I have no idea who you are but I am glad you are back safe and sound.
good, good, good.

As a mother, I must first say Thank God you're home safe and sound. As a human being and an American, thank YOU for all you gave and sacrificed and risked. Believe me, you will never be just a veteran. Or really, never just ordinary at all. Have a beer for all who made it home safe.. and for those who didn't.
Great news, welcome back! Enjoy that cold beer and take your time getting into the swing of things.

Most of congratulations on bringing yourself and all your troops home safely, that is the biggest, most important mission of all. Well done!
Welcome Home!!!!!!! Thank you for your service!!!
Welcome home, skinny. Glad to have you and your charges back safely. Thank you for your service.
Well, since I just wandered over here today, I didn't even know you were gone, but I might as well say welcome back.

"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."

And for you and your family and your friends, I am very happy too.
I'm so glad you made it home safely! I hope you'll continue to write to let us know how you fare with adjusting to being back home. It's bound to feel strange for awhile.
Welcome back Skinny. Happy as hell you're safe and out of harm's way now. Enjoy that beer.
I'd been waiting to see this post. That picture at the end is just wonderfully sweet. Drink in the love, Skinny. Welcome home.
Welcome home! So glad to have one of our finest young men back safe and sound. Thank you.
I'm so relieved you're home!!!! Welcome and thank you for all the sacrifices you made and the lost time back home. Thank you for your service to our country. Thank you. In my eyes you're a hero. I'm just so glad you're home....safe and sound.
Welcome back !!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!
thank you from my family....for all you do
Welcome home, Skinny and great photo of you and the Dane! It will all settle back in.
Welcome home, buddy.
Welcome home, indeed. You give "support our troops" a whole new meaning, here. We need to support them as much (if not more) when they return as we do when they are serving our country. Thank YOU for serving ours. I'm glad you are safe.
I'm thrilled you're home
Welcome home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! God bless you, Skinny!
Glad you're home safe.
Ahhhhh...(big sigh of relief)...you're home. HOME! xxxooo
Welcome home Skinny. So glad you made it back and shared your story with me. Hope you keeo writing.
It's close enough to 5 o'clock somewhere!
Thanks for your service, we're all indebted to you and the other men and women who served and continue to serve. We are glad you are home safely and hope you have a good happy life now. Will look forward to reading your future posts.
hey - we miss you!
Woohoo! A belated 'welcome back' to you! :D