This was a family, and not just as brothers in arms. These men were small town Mainers. They knew each other. They left home together, and spent hours on duty together, protecting their country and its freedoms. The Battalion Chaplain knew his men well. He had presided over SSG Poulin’s wedding. He went to high school with SPC Dostie’s parents.
One of the soldiers in the unit grew up three houses away from SPC Dostie in Somerville. Their parents had been close friends since they were young kids. That soldier was there the day they brought baby Tommy home from the hospital, and babysat Tommy when he was too young to be alone at home. Their summers were filled with fishing, water-skiing…and then they went to war together.
The unit chaplain was sitting down with a filled plate, and bowing to say grace. Then came the flash. A bright light. The boom was unlike the normal routine of the mortars and rockets that came down on the base. The soldiers were thrown around the room. Smoke and debris covered the tables and holiday decor. The medics rushed in to the mess hall that was now darkness to answer the many cries for help that surrounded them. The chaplain proceeded to give Last Rites to soldiers around him. They were still under attack, the enemy shelling the combat support hospital at FOB Diamondback nearby. The scene at Diamondback was also chaos.
The bomber, disguised as an Iraqi National Guard soldier, killed 14 American soldiers, four civilians and four Iraqi soldiers. Shrapnel from his explosive vest wounded 72 others, including six soldiers from Maine.
SSG Poulin and SPC Dostie lost their lives that day, but as the mission of The Summit Project is carried out, they will never be forgotten.
Tommy Dostie lived to be 20 years old. He graduated from Erskine Academy in South China with the class of 2002, two short years before he was killed in combat. Tommy was a selfless young man, always looking out for his family and his friends. He loved to joke around. He served his community as a volunteer firefighter, wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps. He would always say his dad was the man he respected most in the entire world. He had the skills to turn wrenches and bolts to make the motor of a truck sing…they said his truck was the favorite in the fleet due to Tommy’s handiwork.
Lynn Poulin was married with two grown children and two stepchildren. He was compassionate, caring, and always smiling. He worked at Bath Iron Works as a welder and ship fitter. Lynn was a 23 year veteran guardsman…a “fixture” at the Belfast armory. Among his military citations was one for his work upgrading Humvees. He was a whiz at anything mechanical and had an amazing work ethic, giving everything far more than was required.
These two Maine heroes made a difference wherever they went. Their spirit and attitude about life made a positive impact on all who were blessed to know them. And as we gather for the holiday season, surrounded by friends and family, we thank these heroes for having the freedom to do just that. Their families, their friends, and their fellow soldiers, are in our hearts and on our minds as we know that through the joy that is this season, there will always be grief.