Coffee and the Troops: July 4th
A lot of people think of the Fourth of July in terms of barbeques, and me and a lot of other guys I know will be celebrating the holiday in that way too, enjoying the fireworks at the base. But we'll also be remembering our fallen brothers, and keeping our families close.
Bunyard, 36, grew up in Tarkington Prairie, a small town North East of Beaumont. As a kid, Bunyard competed in the rodeo circuit, riding saddlebroncs and bull fighting. This self-proclaimed "rodeo clown" graduated high school in 1990, and left for basic training the very next day.
Since joining up, Bunyard has traveled the world and then some, visiting Iraq, Germany, Italy, Alaska, Kentucky and Louisiana on his tours. He's even competed on the US Army Rodeo Team, twice attending the finals at Camp Pendleton. Although periods of separation have been tough on the family (Bunyard has been married for four years, and he and his wife have three kids between them), they keep in touch through phone calls, emails and letters.
"My family is very understanding of what I do," he says. "They support it 100% because they want me to come back alive. Last year, when I was in Baghdad, they sent pictures and a note to the Army paper for Father's Day, and that was really special. I saved the paper and still have it right here."
As Staff Sergeant, Bunyard runs a section with two Bradley fighting vehicles and scouts for the enemy on a daily basis. Canvassing the area without engaging the enemy is a challenge, but one that is extremely important. Scouts also classify the danger level of routes, look for explosives, and run convoy escorts. It's a job that requires the men to stay alert and focused, and that means coffee is always on tap.
"On long night missions you want coffee anyway you can find it. You do whatever it takes to stay awake," says Bunyard. "I learned never to store coffee on a camel back, which is the container that we carry water in on our backs. Drink coffee through that straw, and you'll burn your lips and tongue. Mugs are better."
For his part, Bunyard owns dozens of coffee mugs, some he even bought while stationed in Iraq. From stainless steel travel varieties to military themed porcelain, his collection spans the gamut. Coffee has become such a big part of Bunyard's life in the military that he wrote a brew poem. It's become a favorite among his pals.
"I wrote the poem from my experiences and from what I've observed," he adds. "We drink our coffee every morning."
Ode to Coffee
By Staff Sergeant Charles Bunyard, Jr.
Privates sitting at morning chow
Milk and juice young kids
While some senior Corporals and young Sergeants sip at some coffee together
Laughing, joking like teenagers - trying to be big
Then you see the Staff Sergeants and Sergeants First Class
Two fisting coffee mugs in each hand and a thermos under their arm
They need no food for coffee is all they crave
It's become the lifeblood within their veins.
Through late nights, early mornings
Coffee keeps the Army rolling along.