Posted on Tue, Mar. 14, 2006
Bond's son returns to Camp Lejeune from Iraq
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - For his 67th birthday, Sen. Kit Bond got the best present a parent could ask for: His son, a Marine first lieutenant, returned home safely after spending a year in Iraq.

"I'm very happy to have him back," the Missouri Republican said Tuesday of 25-year-old son Sam. "He's a lot more than a year older than he was when he went at 24," he said.

Sam Bond came back to the United States earlier this month and was reunited with his dad in Washington on Thursday before returning to Camp Lejeune, N.C. For his father, there was pride and a great sense of relief.

"His coming back and letting me buy him dinner was the best birthday present I could have," said Bond, who turned 67 on March 6.

The younger Bond served with a regimental combat team in Fallujah, gathering intelligence data and sharing reports with commanders in battlefield units.

While he was fortunate to avoid injury during his stint there, others close to him were not so lucky. In January, five Marines in his son's unit were killed in separate accidents. Another lieutenant working a different shift was hit by shrapnel from an improvised explosive device used by insurgents. He survived.

"Certainly, when they're in the combat zone, any parent who isn't concerned about him, doesn't pray for him every night, doesn't worry about him every day - I wouldn't understand it," Bond said.

At least 2,310 U.S. military members have been killed since the beginning of the Iraq war three years ago, including 36 from Missouri, according to an Associated Press count.

Sam Bond was still a college student at Princeton University when his father voted in the Senate to authorize the war in Iraq. The senator, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, remains steadfast in his support for the war effort and said his son feels the same.

"I got from him and from the other Marines their absolute horror and opposition to an immediate pullout or setting a timetable for withdrawal," Kit Bond said.

"The only timetable that makes sense is when they get the Iraqi military and police trained so they can handle the insurgency," he said. "Then we can, as the president indicated, significantly draw down our troops."

Bond's son is now back at Camp Lejeune after catching up on his sleep and visiting with old friends. He's not sure where his son will be sent next, but Bond said his son wants to join a combat platoon or a scout sniper platoon after more training. That likely would mean deployment to another dangerous part of the world.

"My sense from watching Marines is that wherever it's hottest, that's where they go," Bond said. "I can't argue with him because we proudly send young men and women from Missouri off to the service academies knowing they are going to going be in harm's way."