Saturday, May 19, 2007

Matthew Bolar laid to rest

ARLINGTON, Va. -- After spending nearly a year in Iraq, Army Spc. Matthew T. Bolar was home for only two months before he volunteered for a second tour.

Bolar, 24, of Montgomery, Ala. was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson in Anchorage.

With a gray sky blocking out the midafternoon sun, more than three dozen mourners assembled at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday to honor Bolar. He was the 334th member of the military killed in Iraq or Afghanistan to be buried at Arlington.

Bolar, who was born in Baton Rouge, is survived by his mother and stepfather, Anne and Vernon Adkins of Montgomery; his father and stepmother, Gordon and Elly Bolar of Kalamazoo, Mich; and a younger sister, Emma Adkins.

In an earlier interview, Anne Adkins recalled her son's fun-loving nature. She spoke of a mischievous and independent child whose favorite television station was the Military Channel, and of a boy who liked documentaries and military-themed toys.

"He was always very patriotic," she said. "After 9/11, he really wanted to go into the armed forces. He felt like he was called."

In 2002, Bolar graduated as valedictorian from Canterbury High School in Montgomery. He wanted to enlist, but his mother ("like a mom," she said) persuaded him to try college. He attended Auburn University's campus in Montgomery for a year and a half and talked about majoring in military history. But when he turned 21 in 2004, he decided it was time to follow his heart.

"He said, 'Mom, I love you, but this is just something I've got to do,' " Anne Adkins said.

His first tour in Iraq lasted from February to December 2006 and included a three-month extension that moved him from Mosul to Baghdad.

"I asked him, 'Is this what you want to do? Is this what you feel like you have to do?' " said Vernon Adkins, Bolar's stepfather of 21 years. "And he said, 'I'm going to do it because they're asking the single guys, and I figured I'd go for somebody who's got kids. Somebody will do this for me in the future.' So I guess if he hadn't gone, maybe some dad would have met that IED.

"He liked making everybody laugh, but when it came down to it, especially these past couple of years, when he found what he loved doing in the Army, things really changed for him, and we're just so proud of him."

Bolar spent most of the time between deployments at home -- except for a January trip to Chicago, where he joined his father, Gordon Bolar, to watch his beloved New Orleans Saints play the Chicago Bears in the NFC championship game.

Vernon and Anne Adkins got to see him one last time toward the end of February, just before he returned to Iraq.

Anne Adkins was making cookies to send to Bolar the night she found out he had died. So she decided, with help from the community, to put together a "cookie brigade," which sent about 1,500 cookies to Bolar's unit in Iraq.

Wednesday, as the family rose to lead mourners away from the grave, Vernon and Emma Adkins kissed their hands and touched his silver coffin in a final goodbye.

From the Anchorage Daily News

Related Link:
Matthew T. Bolar dies of injuries from I.E.D.