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thedrifter
06-26-08, 12:23 PM
Back from Iraq: Learning life’s lessons on the line

By MetroWest Staff
06/26/2008

By Candace Gutherie

MetroWest Intern


One would think carrying 85 pounds of equipment would be a job in itself, but not for 19-year-old Lance Cpl. Robert Gildea. A United States Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton in California, he has a little vacation at home after being in Iraq for seven months.

“I joined the Marines Feb. 5, 2007,” Gildea said. “I’ve always wanted to be a Marine, from seeing the Marine Corps commercials.”

According to Gildea, after joining the Marines, boot camp was all right and he expected it to be a little harder. Just out of high school and with no plans, Gildea decide this was the place for him.

“After graduation, I wasn’t really going anywhere,” said Gildea. “Living with my parents, I wanted to do something with my life.”

Unlike many young individuals today, braving 100-degree temperatures along with heavy equipment, camel spiders and being in constant danger, is not a regular choice to do with one’s life, but not for Gildea.

After being deployed to Iraq Oct. 30, Gildea has seen what most Americans are not even allowed to know about. This must be a hard thing to hold in but to Gildea, this is the line of duty.

Gildea is a combat engineer and deals with demolitions security. He also does construction and concrete work, as well.

But one instance, his crew was fired at by a man shooting out of a nearby window, according to Gildea. He said he was the one holding the gun and had to fire back.

“I had the main job of firing back; I just tried to stay down,” he said.

Fortunately for Gildea and his family, he is safe and is happy to be home, even if it is only for a short time.

“I sometimes have nightmares about it,” he said. “But it doesn’t really bother me any more.”

His family is terrified when they hear of a big bombing. His mother, Kim, said she is afraid to watch television.

He enjoys meeting people from around the world, traveling and making new friends, he said.

“I know some Arabic, but it’s always hard to communicate,” he said. “Young kids are starting to learn English. They like us and they are starting to fight back with us.”

On one occasion, Gildea gave a young boy named Mohammad a dollar. But he said he was afraid the boy would get jumped afterward. The boy’s home was bombed and he had burns all over his face, said Gildea.

“I know we should stay there and finish it,” he said, when asked if the government should extract soldiers.

He’s a graduate of Brighton High School, and Gildea still calls Brighton his home. After his service as a Marine, he plans to come back and go to college to become a police officer.

“I’ve learned discipline and structure,” Gildea said. “It is a great experience if people want to do something like that.”

Ellie