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Letters from Bosnia: Young service people describe their lives

SPC Joseph Rusk

SPC Joseph Rusk points to the inside of a Bradley tank.

E5 Sgt. Bradley Jones

E5 Sgt. Bradley Jones.

Bosnia duty As the country marks Memorial Day on Monday, May 27, people will remember and honor the men and women of the nation's armed forces.
   Among those from this area currently in the military service are two 1989 Inglemoor graduates, Joe Rusk and Brad Jones, both now stationed in Bosnia.
   Their letters and phone conversations provide not only a glimpse of a soldier's daily life in a potentially hostile situation, but some understanding of the country and its people.
   Joe, the son of Clem and Julie Rusk of Woodinville, was a standout wrestler in high school, tying the Inglemoor record of 33 wins and only 1 loss in his senior year. He went on to lose a close match in the state tournament finals.
   Following the completion of Ranger training, SPC Joseph Rusk was sent to Giessen, Germany. From there, his unit left for Bosnia Jan. 28, 1996, to take part in Operation Joint Endeavor.
   Brad Jones is the son of David and Jane Jones. David is the principal of Woodinville High School.
   Brad graduated from Inglemoor in 1980 and enlisted in the army in 1989. He has served as a medic in Korea and Germany and has been in Bosnia since January 1996.
   Joe Rusk has sent many letters from Bosnia to his parents and to his wife, Melissa. Here are some excerpts:

   Brad Jones doesn't write as much, his father David said, but he calls home on a regular basis. He recalls what Brad has said during those telephone conversations:
   While the U.S. headquarters in the American sector is located in Tuzla, E5 Sgt. Jones is serving in Olovo, where he works in the equivalent of an aid station. The town is situated on both sides of a river, with one side ethnically Serbian. The other side is Muslim, where Jones lives, and which he describes as being decimated.
   The surrounding land is "not unlike the topography of Enumclaw where Jones' grandparents live," his father said. The unit that Jones is with is responsible for 40 kilometers of highway that links a mountain pass with a river valley.
   The recovery of the area's economy is of primary importance, and interestingly, the first commercial efforts to return have been bread baking and laundry, David Jones said.
   The days for Brad are very long, he told his father, with the biggest problem the predictablity of the day-to-day routine. "There is no such thing as an eight-hour, five-day work week," Jones said.
   On the plus side, however, Jones likes the people and especially the children of Bosnia, and does what he can to help them.
   The climate of Bosnia is Mediterranean; the spring temperatures are 75-80. However, when Jones's unit arrived in cold, snowy January, they lived in a tent. Now they are housed in an old tractor factory.