Diboll man recounts surviving Iraq explosion

By Holley Nees - bio | email

DIBOLL, TX (KTRE) - He was contracted to take care of troops overseas, until his convoy exploded three years ago.   With more than $500 thousand in medical bills, Russell Skoug's insurance denied him from day one, leaving him to foot the bill.

"None of us really realized what day it was really because if we'd have realized what day it was, I don't imagine we'd of had a convoy that day," said Skoug.

September 11, 2006 an Improvised Explosive Device would change Russell Skoug's life forever.

"When [the] IED blew up and [came] through the truck, that coin was sitting in this side leg," he said.

His angel coin was bent from the shrapnel, sparing his leg from even more injury.   Loaded onto a cot he recalls his flight from Iraq to Germany.

"I was with some GIs that had their arms missing, maybe one leg maybe two legs or maybe everything missing from the hip down," he said he thought his life was over.   "Then I was thinking yeah, this is about right.   Here's where I'm going to end it, right here."

Instead he lived to tell even Rolling Stone about it, but there are some things he will never shake.

"Just constant pain.   I don't think I'll ever be rid of it," he admitted.

However, the painful memories are even harder.

"Sometimes I still [have] to get up at night and walk around and realize where I'm at," he said.

He's home, wrestling with medical bills his employer left him with.

He said, "After I got hurt, he kind of washed his hands of me."

Skoug has moved on.

"All kinds of people make the world go round and you got to have them," said Skoug.

He works to get better every day, but life will never be the same.

He said, "You can't put your shoes on, your socks, your britches, you can put your shirt on.   It's really frustrating having to have someone wait on you all the time you know, it's bad."

Some of the wounds on his body may heal with time, but he said, "The ringing in the ears is going to be there forever."

He said he's just thankful to be alive.

Skoug's attorney brought his employer to the Department of Labor and then to Federal Court. His employer did pay some bills, but Skoug said he still has a stack from his last surgery.