Bonnie Amos, wife of Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos, travels with Master Sgt. David Peacock and Sgt. Mallory S. VanderSchans, the commandant's official photographer, from the amphibious assault ship Peleliu to Thumrait Air Base, Oman, on Dec. 28. The photo was taken by the commandant. (Marine Corps)
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MARINE BARRACKS WASHINGTON, D.C. Commandant Gen. Jim Amos' wife, Bonnie, wanted to go to Afghanistan even before her husband became the Marine Corps' top officer. She felt compelled to visit Marines in the war zone and see the country through the eyes of a spouse and mother, she said.
"For years I've asked to be able to go, knowing in my heart the answer was no," she said. "I always knew the answer was, ‘No, and don't be ridiculous.'"
That changed this year when Bonnie Amos toured the country through Christmas week with the commandant, becoming one of the first spouses of a service chief to visit a conflict area. In a Jan. 14 interview at the commandant's home in Washington, she said she lobbied hard to go this year, noting that a decrease in violence would make it safer. The commandant said yes, she said, but only after consulting top commanders in the region.
"I will say that I held my own," she said, injecting some self-deprecating humor. "I could actually stand with a flak jacket on. I did probably look like a bobble doll with the helmet on, but that's just the way it is when you're a wimpy old woman."
The commandant and his wife traveled with a crew that included Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Mike Barrett and Lt. Gens. William Faulkner and Richard Tryon. On Christmas Day, she teamed with her husband, Gens. John Allen and James Mattis and other senior officers to serve dinner in a chow hall at Camp Leatherneck, the Marine Corps' largest base in Afghanistan.
"We tried to get a little sing-along going with the singing generals," said Amos, who has been married to the commandant for 42 years. "I don't know that they thought that was the most fun they'd ever had… but they did a little bit of ‘Jingle Bells.' "
The trip didn't just take the group to major bases like Camp Leatherneck. They toured positions up and down the Helmand River Valley in an MV-22 Osprey, including the Kajaki Dam. They also visited U.S. forces in several countries on the way home and aboard the amphibious assault ship Peleliu, which is carrying elements of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.