Bouldin thanks supporters

Posted By | December 17, 2004 12:00 am

Jeanne Bruce
Woodland Park Elementary students were recently surprised to meet two of the Marines they have supported through Project Care.
In April of this year, the school began gathering supplies and food for Marines in the 3rd Radio Battalion because of a sister’s concern for her brother stationed in Iraq.
The idea began when Debbye Argo, a teacher at Woodland, was talking with her daughter, Lauryn Bouldin, about her brother, Sgt. Bryan Bouldin. The two came up with the idea of “Project Care,” a way to make soldiers serving in Iraq feel the love and support of the community.
Teachers, students, faculty and families of Woodland Park began bringing in items to be sent from the school. Now, eight months later, Bouldin and a fellow Marine visited Woodland to thank the students for their support.
“My sister was in fifth grade last [school] year, and she and my mom got everything together,” Bouldin said. “They sent lots of care packages and letters and all kinds of good stuff.”
Bouldin was raised in White County and was very pleased with the packages and support his unit received from the school. Another Marine in his unit joined him to personally thank the students.
“It was really nice having a constant supply of good stuff,” said Cpl. Patrick Coble, of Nashville.
“They sent us a flag in one of the packages and asked if we could fly it and take a picture, then return it back here,” Bouldin said. “They [commanders] wouldn’t actually let us raise it because it’s a sovereign nation but we were allowed to display it and take a picture.”
The flag and pictures of the Marines are on display in the main entrance of Woodland Park Elementary.
Bouldin and Coble visited each classroom, allowing students to ask questions about their time in Iraq and to thank
them for the packages and their support.
The Marines showed a map of the area where they were stationed and explained they provided intelligence to the field commanders. Or, as one student said, “They told their bosses where the bad guys were and what they were doing.”
The 3rd Radio Battalion was stationed in Ramadi. They lived in the palace that belonged to Saddam Hussein’s son, Uday.
“Our unit and another unit lived in his palace and other units lived in tents and buildings,” Coble said. “It was not nearly as nice as it used to be. It got hit with seven bombs during the war. Except for the room we were living in, the rest was in shambles. A lot of it was looted and ruined before we ever got there.”
“Fighting was an everyday occurrence,” Bouldin said. “We worked 12-hour shifts, so you’d go in and listen to everything outside, and about the time you’d get ready to sleep it would start again.”
Coble said, “When you first get there, you’re jumpy, with all the bombs and shooting, but by the end, you knew what was close and what wasn’t. It’s something you get used to.”
Regarding the fighting and safety of his unit, Bouldin said, “Every day was a close call. Both of us had really close calls, where gravel is hitting you from gunfire or a bombing, but you just keep going. It’s just that dangerous, even on the base.”
Bouldin and Coble and the rest of their unit were thankful for the gifts and mail they received during a difficult assignment.
“We just appreciated everything everyone did for us,” Bouldin said. “It made it easier to deal with the day-to-day stuff. This [support] was kind of the bright side to all this.”
“Every time we heard there was mail, we knew it would be a good day,” Coble said with a smile.
The two said they had what they needed, but these packages were “the extras.”
“Most days we’d have three meals, but they’d send snack foods and candy bars,” Bouldin said.
“It was great,” Coble added. “Every time you’d open up a package it would be like Christmas. Someone would always need something, even though we had what we needed most of the time.”
The two Marines left for Iraq on Feb. 14, 2004, and have returned to the states for some R & R. After the holidays, their unit will be stationed in Hawaii for training. They are not sure if or when their unit will return to Iraq, but wanted to thank the community.
“I appreciate all that everyone is doing but I don’t expect it, and if they didn’t do it I wouldn’t be upset. We’d do the job with or without the support.”
Bouldin’s other family members include a brother, Casey, his father, Lynn, his wife, Renee, and a son, Max, who is 2 years old.
Bouldin said his unit would begin training after the first of the year, and wait for more orders.

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