LACONIA — It was more 35 years ago when two Laconia natives, Donald Bolduc and Tom Saunders, last met. Now, a continent away, the two are both playing supporting roles with the U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany. U.S. Africa Command (http://www.africom.mil/) or US AFRICOM - is the Department of Defense's lead military organization overseeing military support to the broad U.S. military and interagency effort to the African continent.
Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc and Tom Saunders are currently serving with US AFRICOM, the military command responsible for military relations with African nations, the African Union, and African regional security organizations. AFRICOM provides military support in areas such as operations planning, training, logistics humanitarian assistance, and engineering to assist African partners in improving security, governance, and development.
General Bolduc, a 1981 graduate of Laconia High School, is the deputy director of the Directorate of Operations for US AFRICOM, which conducts operational planning; organizes forces for assigned missions, coordinates movement and employment of forces, and monitors and directs operations in order to enhance stability in the USAFRICOM area of activity.
"It's great to meet up with a hometown friend. It brings back memories of youth and more peaceful and simpler times," said General Bolduc, who has served nine
deployments to Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq, is one of US AFRICOM's leaders that provides recommendations to senior decision makers for orchestrating how the command responds to complex contingencies and crisis, often at short notice.
"I'm very humbled and grateful to serve the men, women and families of our U.S. military. It is an honor to be part of a U.S. military that is able to be called up to not only defend our country's freedoms during wars, but is also capable of rapidly responding to humanitarian disasters in order to prevent death and human suffering," said General Bolduc, who joined the Army as a private in 1981, received his commission to 2nd Lieutenant in 1988 and is now serving as a general officer.
Saunders, a 1979 graduate of LHS who retired in 2005 as a senior master sergeant after serving in the U.S. Air Force for 26 years, is currently an Army civilian employee assigned as a media engagement action officer with the US AFRICOM Public Affairs Office.
"It was ironic to go to a meeting, see the name plate 'Bolduc' on his desk, then suddenly have an image of a focused, enthusiastic southpaw at baseball practice," said Saunders. "It was like, 'Don Bolduc from Laconia?' And suddenly the years faded a bit and we were back in Laconia."
General Bolduc and his wife Sharon are planning a vacation in the Laconia area
in early December to visit family, specifically, his 20-month old grandson and
1-month old granddaughter, said the General with a big smile on his face. The Bolducs have three sons, Joshua (25), Zachary (18), and Matthew (16). General Bolduc is the
son of Armand and Janet Bolduc of Laconia. He has two brothers and one sister. His brother Armand is a retired Master Sergeant currently residing outside of Houston, Texas with his wife Sherry. His brother Dave is currently serving in the US Army as a Colonel and resides in Northern Virginia with his wife Karen and their two children. His sister Michelle resides in Laconia with her husband Dustin Muzzey and their two children.
Among Don's military decorations and badges are two Defense Superior Service Medals, a Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with "V" Device for Valor, four other Bronze Star Medals, and Army commendation Medal with Valor Device and two Purple Hearts.
Saunders is the son of Claudette Saunders of Laconia. He has two brothers (Tim and Eric) and three sisters (Linda Goodwin, Michelle O'Meara and Laurie Martines) living in Laconia and the surrounding region. Saunders and his wife, Dawn, have five children, Ryan (31), Brittany (24), Tommy (22), Gunner (18), and Tori (11). Tommy is currently serving in the U.S. Air Force as a Staff Sergeant assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Brittany is currently in an Airman Basic at her technical training school at Keesler AFB, Miss. Saunders' dad, Thomas Noyes Saunders, who passed away in 2002, was a long-time Laconia Little League coach.
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