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Family gathers before soldier returns to Iraq

November 30, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

If one thing has surprised Army Spc. Glenn Bolland about his tour of duty in Iraq, it's the dedication of every U.S. soldier he's encountered - and their unwavering optimism in the face of adversity - he says.

"It's just amazing how they've been able to stay so positive after all they've been through," says Bolland, 23, who is assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Italy and now works as a medic with Bravo Company 1st 508 Division in northern Iraq.

He returned home to Boonsboro on leave from Nov. 10 to 26.

A 1998 graduate of Boonsboro High School, Bolland is married to Jennifer Gearhart Bolland of Greencastle, Pa. He is the son of Fred and Patty Bolland, and has two brothers, Tim and Carl Bolland.

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In Iraq, Bolland is charged with maintaining order, protecting oil fields and restoring services. He has worked closely with the Iraqi people to rebuild hospitals, schools, water and electrical services and the police force, he says.

"We took a town that had absolutely nothing and made it one of the best towns in northern Iraq," Bolland says.

He praises the Iraqi interpreters who accompany American troops on their missions for risking their lives to help rebuild their country. And he criticizes the national news media for ignoring the progress that American soldiers are making in Iraq, instead focusing on the negative incidents that "boost ratings."

Opposition to the war in Iraq doesn't bother Bolland, he says, because the "freedom to oppose is one of the things we're fighting for - the Iraqi people didn't have that."

But he believes many war protests stem from ignorance.

"People do not know. They do not know how things happen the way they do," he says. "It seems like every single (Iraqi) person you talk to has had a family member killed by Saddam. You have no idea, no idea, what Saddam has done."

Soldiers regularly run across mass grave sites in Iraq, Bolland says.

His tour of duty in Iraq - a country where the people have been victimized by a tyrannical government, where hospitals lack medical supplies, where fresh water and electricity have been scarce, where the soccer team was tortured for losing games - has cemented his appreciation for life in the United States, Bolland says.

"It definitely lets you know the things you take for granted."

Bolland also feels honored to be a part of an action that he believes will make life better for the Iraqi people, and open trade relations between Iraq and the rest of the world, he says.

"I take a lot of pride in being a part of history," Bolland says. "This is going to be a big thing, not just for the Iraqi people, but for the rest of the world."

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