Soldier comes home to say farewell to grandma
Gary Spaulding, Senior Staff Reporter
Private Corey Hines surmounted military obstacles in troubled Afghanistan to come to Jamaica to lay his beloved grandmother to rest on National Heroes weekend.
And, like the soldier he is, the 23-year-old Jamaican will hours later return to duty in the embattled territory on National Heroes Day.
"I have to leave on Monday morning to get back to my deployment," he explained.
As such, the young soldier will have to wait until his annual, more pleasant visit to his homeland to spend time with his large number of aunts, uncles and cousins in Jamaica.
For the past seven months, he has been assigned to the landlocked Asian country.
Already, he has escaped injury after a helicopter in which he was travelling was shot at in Northern Afghanistan.
For the young Jamaican with a ready smile and soft voice, that experience is one he has taken in stride as part of his job.
"I would not call that a near-death experience just because my helicopter got shot at and we had to make a quick landing," he said.
Added Hines: "A lot of people call us heroes, but for me, it's not like that. It's just doing a job that you love."
Hines asserted that Afghanistan is not as bad as people say it is.
"It has its moments when you get bombs coming at you. Other than that, you just get used to the lifestyle."
He had a somewhat challenging time convincing the United States Army that he needed to get to Jamaica for his grandmother's funeral.
Nothing, however, would prevent Hines from making it from the battlefields of Afghanistan to send home Elizabeth Suglam, his maternal grandmother, who helped to nurture him until he was 15, when he migrated with his mother, Roseanna Suglam.
The former resident of Balcombe Drive in Waterhouse, St Andrew, left Jamaica as a third-form student of Kingston College at age 15.
At the age of 17, after merely two years in the United States, he enlisted in the army in 2008 and started training January 2009.
The young man, who describes himself as a true-blooded Jamaican who just lives in the United States, told The Gleaner his experience has been a mixed bag.
"It has its ups and down. It has its benefit in the travelling, and me helping people, as I have always wanted," he said.
Hines divulged that a strong focus on finance offers him opportunities to help others away from home for long periods.