Marine son safe after London bombing

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 28, 2005

When four terrorist bombs rocked the City of London on July 7, the tremors that followed were felt here in Greenville as one family waited for word from their son, who is a U.S. Marine serving in England.

Fifty-two people were killed and 700 injured when explosives on three underground trains and a bus in central London were detonated by suicide bombers with apparent links to the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda.

Carol Boutwell Dunn recalled the fear of not knowing whether her son, Sgt. Robert L. Boutwell II, was alive or dead was unbearable.

Boutwell is stationed at Ruiship Naval Base in London and he commutes each day to the downtown area of the city where he works in a U.S. government building.

The building is located directly across the street from the U.S. Embassy.

Boutwell had just left the same train, or "tube" as it is known in England, approximately 30 minutes before the terrorists detonated backpacks stuffed with explosives.

"I cannot tell you how great the fear was of not knowing if he was trapped below ground in one of the tunnels," Dunn said. "When he called that morning we were all so relieved."

She said her son's building was placed in lockdown for security precautions after the bombings and she didn't know his status.

"Approximately six hours after the news broke here, he called home to say he was okay," she said.

'He said they did not know when they would get out of downtown.

He called again about 3 p.m. our time to say he was out of lockdown, but had been placed on guard duty until further notice."

She said her son told her that it was not until the following Tuesday that he was allowed to return to work in the government building and had to once again ride the tube to get there.

"I asked him how it felt to ride on the train system again and he said that he and everyone there had a different feeling about the situation now," she said.

Dunn said her son told her there are frequent reports of bombs and that there are always protests going on there.

"But until this, there had been nothing of this magnitude to happen there," she said.

Boutwell has been in London for just over a year.

He works in the military postal system, a job he has held since he completed training in 2000. Dunn said they were thankful for the assignment in London, rather than in other hot spots in the world.

"This goes to show you that there is no safe place," she said.

"We are grateful to God for sparing him and to all our friends and different (people) who have shown concern for his safety."

Knowing that her son is now safe, Dunn said she cannot help but think of those who died that morning or who were seriously injured.

"Our hearts go out to all of those who have loved ones in the military wherever they are," she said.

"We pray for their safety and for those they are defending."

Sgt. Boutwell is a 1999 graduate of Greenville Academy.

He is the son of Carolyn Dunn and the late Robert Boutwell.

"We, his family, are very proud of him," Dunn said.

"He was to have made a visit home one week after the bombings, but his leave was canceled.

We are looking forward to his return home."