Soldiers look for perfect holiday gift at Bagram bazaar

PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - A shopkeeper stands by his store in the Bagram Airfield bazaar Dec. 11. The bazaar brings in more than $30,000 into the local economy on a (click for more)

AUP, TF Lethal capture munitions cache in Jaji

PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A member of the AUP performs a search during an AUP-led operation with Company A, 1st Battalion, 168 Infantry Regiment in Jaji District Dec. 16. (click for more)

Kapisa PRT visits Ghayn Valley

KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Local children watch members of Kapisa PRT pass as they leave the Abdul Salam High School in Ghayn Valley Dec. 15. (click for more)

Veterinary Services keep donkeys in the fight

LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Maj. Ted A. Broome (right), and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Eleazar Vizcaino, both assigned to 358th Medical Detachment Veterinary Services, evaluate a donkey at (click for more)

Kunar PRT attends Manogai District elections

KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Haji Sher Badir, Manogai District subgovernor, speaks during the election ceremony for the Manogai District Community Council Dec. 9. (click for more)

Next step to Ghazni 2013 project

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Key elders listen intently while the U.S. and Polish ambassadors, Musa Khan, Ghazni provincial governor, and Amina Safi Afzaly, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, speak (click for more)

Iowa ADT supports Kunar veterinary conference

U.S. Army Maj. Loren Adams, veternarian from New Liberty, Iowa, supervises as an Afghan veterinarian puts final sutures into a neutered dog at a continuing education conference organized by the (click for more)

USO Holiday Tour comes to Bagram

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Actor and comedian Robin Williams talks with U.S. Army Maj. Gen John F. Campbell, Combined Joint Task Force 101 and Regional Command East commander, before the (click for more)

Ambassador Eikenberry dedicates playground at Ghazni orphanage

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Karl Eikenberry, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, shakes a little girl's hand during the playground dedication at Ghazni City Orphanage in Ghazni Dec. 15. (click for more)

Bravo strengthens relationship with Afghan people

PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Shane Taylor, a Slater, Iowa, native and Bravo Troop Soldier, 1st Squadron, 113th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Red Horse, plays with Afghan children (click for more)


PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spcs. Joel Howard (left) and Bryan Couillard, both infantrymen providing security for the Paktya Provincial Reconstruction Team, and both from Lowell, Mass., prepare for a patrol at Forward Operating Base Gardez Dec. 15. After having met in high school and graduating basic combat training together, they are now deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Barry Loo, Paktya Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Two high school friends now work side by side as infantrymen in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

U.S. Army Spcs. Bryan Couillard and Joel Howard, both from Lowell, Mass., met in history class during their sophomore year at Dracut High School. They learned, played sports and got in trouble together.

But not too much trouble.

When their high school years came to an end, it was time to transition to the adult world. Howard decided to join the Army first as a way to pay for college and “get a good head” on his shoulders, as he puts it.

Couillard soon followed his friend, wanting to change the direction his life was heading.

“It just (kind of) clicked. Join the Army and then maybe you can straighten out your life; be a little more self-confident doing something good,” said Couillard.

They showed up together for basic combat training at Fort Benning, Ga., March 5, 2008, and went though the course side by side as “battle buddies,” an Army term for your partner in both garrison and combat.

Both Soldiers agreed their friendship helped them through the rigorous training.

“It was definitely easier going through basic training with one of your best friends by your side,” Howard said.

They graduated boot camp from the same platoon then joined the same squad of Company C, 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, a Massachusetts National Guard unit based out of Cambridge, Mass.  

Both Howard and Coulliard agree joining the Army gave them benefits they probably wouldn’t have gotten if they stayed civilians.

“I'm definitely a lot stronger mentally and physically,” Howard said.

“You put on this uniform and it makes you feel like a completely different person. It gives you some pride,” said Couillard.

Now their unit is serving in Afghanistan as the security force for Paktya Provincial Reconstruction Team helping the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan provide public services and development projects.

Together, they escort subject-matter experts to schools, clinics and meetings with village elders throughout the province. These missions provide meaningful experiences they couldn’t have imagined while they were still in high school.

“It’s definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Howard said.PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spcs. Bryan Couillard (left) and Joel Howard, both infantrymen providing security for the Paktya Provincial Reconstruction Team, and both from Lowell, Mass., prepare to graduate infantry training at Fort Benning, Ga., June 2008. Soon after, they joined the same squad of Company C, 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, Massachusetts National Guard, based out of Cambridge, Mass. (Courtesy photo)


Last Updated on Friday, 17 December 2010 01:21


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