He may be back on American soil now, but the last seven months of Major Eric Lindgren's life have been spent in the sands of Iraq with other U.S. Marines.
Charged with the duty of advising the Iraqi police, Lindgren, of Marcellus, a Marine reservist, and his fellow Marines finished their tour and returned to the United States on Thursday, Aug. 7, flying into their home base at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
"This is my second homecoming from Iraq," he said. "It's a little surreal to be back in a first world country as opposed to a third world country."
Lindgren's first tour was at the beginning of the war, during the initial invasion, while Saddam Hussein was still in control. He spent from January to late May 2003 in Iraq, and though his unit was pulled out quickly they still saw a "good amount of fighting," he said.
"The insurgency was not there. It hadn't really started yet," he said. "It was surreal but felt very fast ... in and out of there real quick."
This time, the pace was slower.
"This time it was advising the Iraqi police. It was a great experience. I would do it again," he said. The job had aggravating moments as well, though. "It's very frustrating. A lot of problems you encounter are due to cultural differences."
When he's home, Lindgren is an officer with the Syracuse Police Department, but in Iraq he and his troops weren't running the department or giving orders. Their job was to give suggestions to the Iraqi police.
"You're not in command," he said. "And you're also there for logistical support."
With a routine that was less grueling in terms of fighting, Lindgren was able to talk to his family more frequently. His first tour only allowed him to contact family once every three months. During his time overseas this year, he was able to call his wife, Cara, weekly and to e-mail every other day.