The Journey of War

By MADISON SMITH

Bonner Rawls. Photo by Madison Smith
Bonner Rawls. Photo by Madison Smith

Bonner Rawls was experiencing a more than difficult time his first semester of college at East Carolina University. Rawls was starting to give up hope, and made the choice that college was not right for him at the time. Rawls had become interested in serving in the military. It was Jan. 12, 2005, when he enlisted into the Army.

During this time, the United States was fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq due to the events of 9/11. His journey started in Fort Knox, Ky., as a Calvary Scout. Rawls fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. In total, Rawls served eight years in the military, and he said he does not regret a thing.

Defining Moment

When you ask a soldier to tell you a story from battle that has defined your life, a lot of answers you would receive are horrifying stories. Though, Rawls did experience the bad, he chooses to relive the good.

“A defining point for me while I served was the thanks that I received from the local nationals in both countries and the good that we brought to them through security and aid,” he said.

To Rawls that was the most fulfilling feeling he has ever felt. It is a big reflection on his personality, and how he strived to help in every single way possible.

The Return

Returning home for Rawls was such a great feeling. He said he was most excited to see his family and friends. He had been missed by many, including his father, O.B. Rawls.

Bonner Rawls said he picked up where he left off. He did not find it tough coming home, but there were a lot of changes that he had to get use to.

“It was weird being able to have the freedom to do whatever you wanted to do again and not being constricted to your patrol base. It takes a while to get used to not having your weapon with you when you return home,” Rawls said.

The question is asked frequently: What was your first meal after returning home? Bonner said he enjoyed a nice big steak dinner with his older brother; explaining that there is no greater feeling than returning home and receiving huge hugs from all the family.

“After you have only had limited phone contact and letters, it’s nice to get to see and spend time with your family,” Rawls said.

Bond between Father and Son

Bonner Rawls and his father have grown stronger as a family. Even though it was hard for O.B. Rawls to let his son go, he said he is beyond proud of everything his son has done for their country.

Bonner Rawls has looked up to his father, especially after combat, because now he knows the feeling his father went through in Vietnam.

“I think it makes the bond stronger. There is always a strong bond between those who have served both present and past, but when you’re a father and son combo it makes it a little stronger,” Bonner Rawls said.

O.B. Rawls and his son Bonner Rawls, now share a common connection that is greater than blood. They have both served for the United States military.

In 1970, the United States created a lottery system to fairly draft citizens into the Vietnam War. O.B. Rawl’s birthday was selected. Though he did not volunteer, he proudly entered the military. His department was the Army. After the war was over, he served for the National Guard for 21 years.

Unlike his father, Bonner Rawls enlisted into the United States Army in 2005. At the time, he was a freshman in college and was not doing as well as he had hoped. Bonner Rawls researched all the military fields and became extremely interested in serving for his country.

O.B. Rawls said he had mixed feelings about his youngest son joining the Army during one of the most devastating times the country has gone through, the days after 9/11. As a father it was hard for him to say goodbye to his son, not knowing if that would be the last time he would see him.

“When Bonner joined the Army and went to serve as a combatant in Afghanistan and Iraq, I had mixed feelings of pride for his patriotism and fear for the horrors we would experience.  We speak a common language now and mutually respect each other’s performance,” said O.B. Rawls

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