JAMESTOWN, NC, USA U.S. Army CPL, HHC, 4TH BATTALION, 31ST INFANTRY, 2 BCT, FORT DRUM, NY YUSUFIYAH, IRAQ 09/19/2006
He dropped out of Southwest Guilford High School in the 10th grade to be home-schooled. He found himself arguing with his parents quite a bit. And he drank. Then at 18, Callahan decided it was time for a change: He thought the Army might be his savior. Callahan enlisted and found a home.
“The thing I’m most proud of is how he blossomed,” his father, David Callahan, said. “In boot camp, he was talking about quitting. Then, he just turned into a man.”
Army Specialist Robert Thomas Callahan died Tuesday in Iraq when the vehicle in which he was riding overturned. He was 22 and stationed in the Baghdad region.
The Army had turned Bobby Callahan’s life around, his family said Thursday. He straightened up and apologized to his parents for giving them a hard time during his teenage years.
He had fallen in love and married in January. His wife, Kristen Callahan, lives in Syracuse, N.Y., near where he was stationed. He was able to buy a new car — an Acura RSX — something that had meant a lot to him.
“The Army and Kristen really helped him out a lot,” his mother, Robin Minor said. “He was a sweetheart. He had a huge heart, was nice to everybody and never met a stranger.”
Callahan was assigned to the Fourth Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, part of the 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, N.Y. He had been in Iraq for about a month and was starting his second tour of duty there. The first time around, he was awarded an Army Commendation Medal with valor for saving another soldier’s life while under enemy mortar fire.
Callahan’s family shared stories Thursday morning about Bobby while waiting for Army officers to arrive. His mother dotted her tears with a brown T-shirt that Bobby wore during his last visit. It was his favorite and had a picture of a Buddha with the slogan, “For good luck, rub my belly.”
His brother pulled out a letter Bobby wrote during his first tour in Iraq. Soft from folding and unfolding, Sean Callahan, 17, keeps it in his wallet.
His sister, Sarah Callahan, recalled how Bobby would come down to Charlotte when he was on leave to visit her at college.
On one such trip, the two didn’t bother to tell their mother he was in town, instead choosing to surprise her with a visit at her Guilford County home.
“I walked in the door in front of him and mom said ‘Oh, that’s a nice surprise,’ ” Sarah Callahan, 20, said. “Then, when she saw him behind me she just dropped to her knees and he gave her the biggest hug.”
They talked about how Bobby would tell them the war in Iraq was doing so much good for the people there and how the United States needed to stay until the job was done. “The kids just worshiped them over there,” Sarah Callahan said.
Mostly they talked about what a good man Bobby became after joining the military.
And about how much he will be missed.
“I guess God needed him more than we did,” Robin Minor said.