Patrick E. Bayard
U. S. Marines
Desert Storm
Dates of Service: 12/13/2001 - 12/12/2005
Rifleman/Diesel Mechanic, 2nd Engineer BN, 2nd Marine Division
Audio Samples

Patrick was born in Pleasant Hill General Hospital in Pleasant Hill, Louisiana, where his grandfather was a doctor, to Dale and Gwen Poinboeuf Bayard. The Bayards lived in Sulphur where his father sold insurance. Most weekends, however, the family drove up to Pleasant Hill to his grandfather Poinboeuf's home on the Civil War battlefield. Only on weekends when he played football in high school did he not come north. His grandfather Poinbeouf's home sat on the old town site of Pleasant Hill, where a major battle in the Red River Campaign was fought on April 9, 1864. Accompanying his grandfather, Patrick explored the battlefield. Together, often with metal detector, they found artifacts from the battle, including bullets, buttons, belt buckles and other items. He estimates the family owns "every bit of a hundred thousand bullets." Patrick graduated from high school in 1998. He studied at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, and then was working in a paper mill in Orange, Texas, when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001. The next day in Lake Charles he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. "The place was packed," he said of the recruiting office. Of his feelings about the terrorist attacks he comments, "You might as well have come and spit in my face." Although he wanted a combat support position, he was trained as a diesel mechanic. He was sent to Parris Island, South Carolina for boot camp where he soon developed an upper and lower respiratory infection and was dropped into the medical platoon until he improved and completed training. All in his company were men who had signed up after the terrorist attack. "They called them September 11th Marines that signed up to go pick a fight," he recalls. Patrick completed the 12-week program and graduated on March 29, 2002. He was sent to Camp Lejeune near Jacksonville, North Carolina to Marine Combat Training, then to nearby Camp Johnson for diesel mechanic school. "That was a sour taste that never left my mouth the whole time I was in the Marine Corps," he remarks of having to serve as a mechanic. After completing the school in late November of 2002, he was placed in 2nd Maintenance Battalion at Camp Lejeune. He left for the Middle East on February 1, 2003. "You get off this airplane and they're handing rounds out. It's at night," he says of arriving in Kuwait City. He was sent to Camp Fox "out to the middle of the desert" and assigned as aide driver on a wrecker in Heavy Maintenance Company, attached to 2nd Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. The unit soon moved to Camp Viper. Although it was cold at night, he recalls, daytime temperatures spiked above 100 degrees. On March 20, he was in a convoy "with our trucks running for eight to ten hours before that deadline hit," he says of President George W. Bush giving the order to begin the Iraq War. "We got shot at a lot," he states, of the march to Baghdad. "You can't do nothing about it. You're riding in a truck. You keep going, man; keep your head down and keep going," he says of combat. He went through Nasiriyah, famous for the "Battle of the Bridges". "We ran into the Republican Guard and all that and there were some pretty nasty days there." Patrick remarks that the Iraqis began targeting convoys. "They just let the tanks and all the infantry roll right through and start shooting at you," he says. Meanwhile, the Marines were on water and food rations. He received one MRE a day and one large bottle of water that was always "hot, hot, hot, hot". He stuffed the bottle in a wet sock he hung from the window as he drove. "That's the only way to make them drinkable," he remarks. With no cab on the front, he and his crew hung "all our stuff" from mirrors. "My stuff got shot all off our truck," he says. Patrick drove into Baghdad "in the vicinity when they were snatching that statue down," he recalls, of the sculpture of Saddam Hussein. Nearly immediately, he began towing missions to Camp Fox in Kuwait, a distance of about 250 miles. While overseas Patrick received 55 packages from "everybody I knew" as well as from strangers. He says he received some 600 letters from elementary school children from across Louisiana. Patrick spent another two months in Kuwait working in the maintenance battalion to prepare vehicles for the return trip to the States. Meanwhile, he served as the company barber. "I'd have lines. I cut a general's hair," he says. He spent five-and-a-half months overseas, returning to the States in August of 2003, and proudly wearing his Combat Action Ribbon. He and his driver were the only ones in his battalion to earn the Marine's combat veteran decoration. Patrick remained at Camp Lejuene for the rest of his tour. By then he was cooking Louisiana foods such as gumbo, jambalaya and etoufee for his friends. "I just couldn't go on living without a little taste of home, so my mom put together a recipe book and I had to get a lot of the stuff mailed to me but I was able to make food for all of my friends," he recalls. He was injured and was disappointed when he could not return to the Middle East with his buddies. He completed his tour of duty on December 12, 2005. Returning to Sulphur he worked in construction and landscaping, overseeing a crew of men. He next worked at a food processing plant cooking sausage and gumbo. For July 4, 2010 he hosted 14 of his Marine buddies at a reunion at the family's Pleasant Hill home. "We actually walked the battlefield a lot," he says. Proud of his service, Patrick was glad he joined the Marines. "You could take the easy road or you could take the hard road. But the hard road is always more rewarding and so I took the hard road," he states.