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Colleagues remember soldier, postman

By Ed Brock

Robert "Bobby" Hollar wore two uniforms, one Postal Service blue and the other Army green.

Two weeks ago he died while serving in that latter uniform, the uniform of the soldier he was.

Now the people with whom he worked at the Jonesboro Post Office and his friends in Clayton County are mourning his death.

A resident of Thomaston, 35-year-old Hollar was a staff sergeant in the Army National Guard who served with the 48th Brigade that is now in Iraq and which includes many other residents of Clayton County. On Sept. 1 Hollar and another soldier were killed when their Humvee hit a roadside bomb.

They were in the 108th Armor Regiment that is stationed near Mahmudiyah, a rural area in the "Sunni Triangle" south of Baghdad.

A sort of shrine dedicated to Hollar has been put together at the post office on North Main Street where, said postal supervisor Angela Tittle, Hollar had worked as a carrier since 1998. It's a picture of Hollar in Army fatigues, one of his two young sons on his lap, with white candles on either side and a tightly folded American flag to one side.

"Right now we're just waiting for more information on when he's coming home so we can do something for the family," Tittle said.

They plan to attend their colleague's funeral, Tittle said, and they're collecting money for his widow and sons. Their memories of him are still tender and fresh.

"A fallen soldier, father, son and husband ... Oh! It's hard to understand," wrote postal clerk Pat Dawson in a poem she dedicated to Hollar.

Dawson based the poem on an almost daily ritual she shared with Hollar.

"He would always come and get a stamp from me to pay his bill," Dawson said. "He would just come to me and say 'One stamp, please.'"

Postal clerk Debbie Cootes said Hollar always had a smile on his face.

"A lot of people in the post office tend to stay stressed out and moody," Cootes said. "He always stayed calm."

Mary Banks, also a clerk, said she saw Hollar one day before he left work and gave him a hug.

"He said I'll be back one more day," Banks said. "I said that's OK I'll hug you again when you come back."

Hollar left a lasting impression on the people in the community where he worked as well.

"He looked at his life as a wonderful life. I guess he enjoyed what he did," said Kim Verma, owner of the BP gas station and Blimpie sandwich shop where Hollar often came for lunch. "I can still see his smiling face."

Verma said Hollar often told her that he didn't want to go to the war.

"I guess somehow he knew he wouldn't come back," Verma said.

A fellow soldier and friend of Hollar, Army Reserve Sgt. Maj. Chris Zaworski of McDonough who is stationed at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, said he saw Hollar shortly before he left. Zaworski had served in Kuwait with the U.S. 3rd Army at the beginning of the war.

"I tried to give him a heads up," Zaworski said. "I've been where he's been. It's a tough job for them over there."