A former Aurelia High School student came back to the area recently on a 15-day "R and R" leave from his military service in Iraq.
Brian Skou, the son of Donnie and Connie Skou of Marathon, signed up for a six-year enlistment in the Iowa Army National Guard in April, 2004, while he was in the 11th grade at Aurelia High School. Skou graduated with his high school class in the spring of 2005, and five months later started six months of pre-mobilization training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.
Following the completion of his training, Skou was deployed to Iraq in April, 2006. He is a Specialist, with the rank of E-4, and is a fire support specialist, who helps plan indirect mortar attacks.
Since he has been in Iraq, Spec Skou has become acquainted with two young servicemen who grew up in these parts and are stationed on the same base as he. Tanner Johnson, who graduated from Aurelia High School a few years before Brian Skou, and Louie DeRoos, who is also a little older than Skou, is an Alta High School graduate who was living in Aurelia when he was deployed.
Both Johnson and DeRoos work in the base motor pool, "fixing vehicles" - primarily large ones. As Skou says, "I take 'em out and break 'em, and bring 'em back for them to fix." Johnson recently completed his R & R back home and has returned to Iraq, while DeRoos will be coming home later this month.
Spec Skou, whose parents moved to Marathon last fall (around the same time he entered the active service), will return to Iraq, via Des Moines and Atlanta next Wednesday. He will then resume his service to his country, and is scheduled to be discharged from active service in April, 2007.
His plan at this time is to return to his parents' home in Marathon, relax and get adjusted to the return to civilian life, and then enter Western Iowa Tech in the fall to receive training in Police Science Technology. Following completion of that course, he plans to transfer to a four-year school and earn a degree in Criminal Investigation. This bright young man has a career goal of becoming a detective, saying that he has had an interest in police work for quite a while.
When asked if he had anything he'd like to say to people, he replied that he hoped that American citizens "Take everything they hear in the media (regarding the war in Iraq) with a grain of salt." He feels the media have focused too much on the negative aspects of the war, saying that there are a lot of good things going on over there, too, with the building of new hospitals and schools for the citizens of Iraq.
Skou said that the big smiles on the faces of Iraqi children as they come and go to their new schools is a wonderful sight to behold, and fills his heart with joy to know that the American servicemen have helped the Iraqi people start a new and better life.