Monday, September 19, 2005

Marine analyzes anatomy of attacks

09/19/05
By Andy Johns, Rome News-Tribune Staff Writer



...Most Americans never really want to have to go to work.

Marine Cpl. Jody Boutwell of Rome doesn’t ever want to have to go to work, either, but for a much more serious reason.

Boutwell, a nuclear/biological/ chemical weapons specialist, returned from Iraq on Sept. 1. While overseas he was ready to use his training to protect troops and assets in case of a nuclear, biological or chemical attack.

“My job is one you hope you never actually have to do,” said the West Rome Wal-Mart assistant manager turned Marine.

Boutwell’s active duty ends in January, though he hopes to keep that status for a little longer. His contract with the Marines ends February 2007. “I should be back permanently,” he said. “You never know, but as of right now it should be permanent.”

If he doesn’t stay on active duty, Boutwell plans on returning to the West Rome Wal-Mart and ultimately gain a computer-related degree.

Not so long ago, though, sand and attacks were on Boutwell’s mind, not degrees. Were there an attack, Boutwell and his team would compile reports sent in and analyze them. Once they determine what had happened, he said, he and his team would plot the attack on a map and then use weather forecasts to determine where contamination is going, when it will arrive and who is in its path.

Not just anyone can do this job.

Boutwell scored high enough on a Marine Corps-issued test to choose between four jobs. “I decided the (nuclear/biological/ chemical job) sounded like the most fun and challenging, so I picked it,” he said.

While 95 degrees is hot to many Romans, it would have been a cool day for Boutwell. He said temperatures in Iraq stayed around 120 degrees. “The thing I miss the most about Georgia is nature,” he said about being stationed in Iraq. “There are constantly sand storms. ... I think I was sick of sand by about the second week.

“There are times when you are walking outside and you can feel the sand stinging your bare skin in the wind.”

Still, inside the Al Asad air base, conditions are different. In addition to being able to get eight hours of sleep a night, Boutwell and other Marines had access to a chow hall, a gym, a base movie theater and an indoor swimming pool. He said there were even rumors of a golf course and an outdoor swimming pool.

In his free time, Boutwell said, he read, worked out and simply relaxed. “Usually, we watch a movie or have some kind of video game tournament,” he recalled. “Most of us (tried) not to allow for too much free time in our schedule as it makes time go by slower.”

“Madden Football,” “Halo 2” and “Tiger Woods Golf” were the soldiers’ favorite video games, Boutwell said.

He said the units previously stationed at the base had started libraries by leaving behind books. “It seems like every building you go into (had) another bookshelf full of novels left behind by previous occupants,” he said.

Boutwell said his interaction with locals was limited. He did interact with foreign nationals in the chow hall. Those workers were from other countries such as Egypt and other surrounding countries.

“Most are very grateful for our presence because they realize why we are here and they can see the positive changes firsthand that the media does not show back home,” he said.

“I honestly believe if the media would portray all the good things happening over here due to our presence instead of harping on the negatives, ... then the American public would have a much different outlook on this war,” he added.

Boutwell said news media coverage is particularly frustrating.

“We as a military have helped this country to be liberated, and it held its first-ever free election,” he said. “The overall morale of the people here (was) higher than before we came, and yet all I ever see mentioned in the media is how many Americans were killed in Iraq and what the ‘death toll’ of the war is up to.”

“I wish people could come to realize the positives and stop condemning the president for the choices he has made and support not only the troops here but the government that decided to send us,” he added. “If you ask the majority of the troops, they will tell you with overwhelming certainty that we need to be (there) and that it is too soon for us to pull out; otherwise everything we have accomplished here will be lost.”

Boutwell said that without a doubt, the toughest part of soldiering was being away from his wife, Debi and his daughter Masie, who turned 2 years old Aug. 29.


He said he missed seeing her grow up. “I can’t believe how much she has grown up in the short time I have been away,” he said. “I have to admit I was really surprised when she counted to 10 and sang her ABCs to me over the phone.”

While he was thousands of miles away from many members of his family, he was only about 100 miles away from his brother, Jason Boutwell, a tank driver with the 48th Brigade.

“It is hard to stay focused when you hear reports of people being injured or dying and you know it is in the vicinity of your sibling,” he said.

He said he gained a new appreciation for family values by watching the locals. “I noticed that although the way of life in this part of the world may be primitive, they still have one thing, which in my opinion is far superior to our culture: family,” he said.

In addition to the support from his family, he has gotten support from his employer. His West Rome Wal-Mart store sent care packages that Marines needed and requested.

“I have also received e-mails from some of the associates at the store where I work asking me how I was doing and if I needed anything,” he said. “I just want to thank everyone for the support they gave us while we were over there.”

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12/09/2005 05:30:00 AM  
Blogger invoulentary medic said...

the 48th brigade is a joke. the only reason they have been deployed is due to the fact they have harvested 80% of theyre "soldiers" from other states.. no credit for individual accomplishments should be given to the 48th, yet to all the states constantly screwed over by georgia and the poor leadership of this brigade.

12/13/2005 10:17:00 PM  

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