Sunday, May 06, 2007

Matthew T. Bolar dies of injuries from I.E.D.

With a batch of her son's favorite cookies bound for Iraq the next day, Anne Adkins finished her baking and went to bed Thursday night.

But a soldier's mother never rests easy.

That same night, Adkins' worst nightmare became reality when two soldiers arrived at the door with news that her 24-year-old son, Army Spc. Matthew T. Bolar, had been killed in action.

"I would have nightmares about them showing up at night," she said. "And then when Vernon came into the bedroom and said, 'You've got to get up, it's Matthew,' I thought ... 'This is my nightmare.' "

Bolar, who graduated at the top of his class from Montgomery's Canterbury High School in 2002, died of wounds received from an improvised explosive device. His unit, the 1st Battalion of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, was conducting patrols in Baghdad.

Bolar is survived by his parents, Anne and Vernon Adkins of Montgomery, and Gordon and Elly Bolar of Kalamazoo, Mich., and his sister, Emma, 20, who graduated from St. James School and now attends the University of Alabama.

Two days after receiving the news, the Adkins family reminisced at their Montgomery home. They remember a driven, fun-loving young man who volunteered for a second tour of duty just two months after returning from his first deployment.

"He said it was a lot better for him to go than somebody that had a bunch of kids," Vernon Adkins said Saturday. "He said, 'Somebody will do it for me in the future.' "

Bolar, who deployed to Iraq from February to December 2006 (which included a three-month extension), had been in country just two months when he was killed. The Adkinses still are trying to determine the details surrounding their son's death but said his unit was assigned to an area in south Baghdad where the soldiers searched for insurgents and escorted convoys.

This deployment, however, felt different, Anne said.

"I think we all knew somewhere nothing good was going to come out of this second tour," she said. "We were worried, really worried, about the second tour."

Bolar tried to protect his parents and revealed more about his missions to his sister, Vernon said.

"He wasn't always a good liar," Vernon said jokingly. "He ended up with a concussion, I think, once. He was real protective of me, and especially, his mom."

Anne last spoke to her son Tuesday when he called her at work at Raycom Media, where she serves as vice president of marketing.

"Thank God I talked to him," she said. "I was at my desk when he called. He said, 'Just chill, mom, just chill. There's nothing to worry about.' "

But like all mothers, she worried. Vernon tried to reassure her that "he was bulletproof," his resolve too strong.

As a boy, Bolar dreamed of entering the military. And when the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, took place, they only reaffirmed his goal. Anne encouraged him to go to college, but after a year at Auburn Montgomery, the then 21-year-old enlisted.

"Once he put his mind to something, that was it," Emma Adkins said. "It didn't matter what it was."

That determination also included seeing his family one last time before he deployed in late February.

"He called us and said, 'I've got a day and a half that I can get off,' " Anne said. "And we said, 'We'll be there.' "

With Bolar flying from Anchorage and the rest of the Adkins family from Montgomery, they reunited in Seattle, where they spent their last few hours together.

"He was determined to see us because... I think maybe he thought he might not be coming back this time," Vernon said. "I got that (feeling), but I don't know."

"I'm so glad that I had 20 years of an unbelievable relationship as opposed to 80 years of something mediocre," Emma said of her brother. "He died a 'somebody.' And isn't that what we all want, is to be remembered?"

In the coming days, Bolar will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. In Montgomery, the family will celebrate their son's life with a party.

Bolar, Anne said, wouldn't have had it any other way.

From the Montgomery Advertiser