Laura Boldry’s life changed in her early 30s. The Carson City resident, who lived in Las Vegas at the time, accepted a bet from her daughters. They would play softball if she followed her dreams to enlist in the military. With March being Women’s History Month, Lt. Col. Boldry looked back at her service in the Nevada Army National Guard. She is the current directorate of information, or the Nevada Guard’s chief information officer. She had spent seven years as the deputy chief. “Joining the military was the most American thing to do. I always wanted to be in the service, but my mother talked me out of it. When I graduated from high school in 1982, girls didn’t go into the Army. I was 17, and she wouldn’t let me,” Boldry recalled.
Lt. Col. Laura Boldry, right, enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard in 1999. Her daughter, Rachel, is an enlisted soldier.
PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF Boldry’s ancestry is rooted in eastern Europe. Her maternal grandmother was Russian although Boldry said she was more Ukrainian, and her grandfather was Polish. On her father’s side, her grandmother was Czech, and her grandfather came from Hungary. “They all came to Ellis Island to become Americans,” she said. Eventually, her parents settled in Las Vegas, where she grew up. Nine years passed for Boldry after her high school graduation, but life presented it challenges as a mother with two young daughters and a marriage unraveling. “I was going through a divorce,” she said, turning to a day she picked up her daughters from school. “I got off early (from work) to walk them home. They wanted to join the softball team.” Their conversation went back and forth until her oldest daughter asked her mother if there was something she wanted to do, like join the military. “You try out for the military, and we’ll try out for the softball team,” said her daughter. The girls signed up for softball, and the 34-year-old Boldry saw a National Guard recruiter. She took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test to measure her knowledge and compatibility of serving in the military and in which career field. She missed by one point to become an aircraft mechanic, but Boldry said the recruiter offered her a slot as a multi-graphic computer mechanic. Although she qualified for the military as an enlisted soldier, her long-term goal focused on becoming an officer. IN THE ARMY NOW The first of many schools began for Boldry in 1999. She attended basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and then did her individual advanced training at Fort Meade, Maryland. After training, she was offered a full-time job in the Nevada Army National Guard working on in-house graphics. Her work didn’t go unnoticed. Boldry started building a database for the Regional Training Institute to collect student information, and she then worked for retired Col. Joseph Rooney on training at the former Nevada Military Department building on South Carson Street. On weekends, Boldry attended Officer Candidate School at the Stead Training Center. Once she finished OCS, she completed her branch training in transportation. She remarried on Nov. 11, 2003, a date she said parades are held in their honor because it’s also Veterans Day. She had met a fellow guardsman, Robert Boldry, who joined the Nevada Army National Guard in 1997 after serving in the U.S. Army. He deployed as part of the Desert Shield/Desert Storm operation in 1990-91. He also served in Germany and the Republic of Korea. The Boldrys also have Fallon ties. He was the first sergeant when the 485th Military Co., was activated and, in 2007, the Nevada Guard recognized him as the state’s First Sergeant of the Year in 2007. Laura Boldry said her daughters accepted Robert as their father and assumed the Boldry last name when they became 18 years old. FIRST DEPLOYMENT Boldry had a chance to use her skills as an officer in the signal battalion. After the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003, various units around the country were called up. The 321st Signal Co., received orders to deploy overseas, and in December 2003, the soldiers, including a newly-minted lieutenant, left for additional training at Fort Lewis, Washington, for three months and then headed to Southwest Asia for a year. One year of the deployment was spent in Kuwait and southern Iraq installing, maintaining and operating state-of-the art communications equipment. For two months, the unit performed security operations. When the unit returned in March 2005, Boldry was happy to be home. She said it was a difficult deployment because of the unknown that occurred after 9/11. During her deployment, Boldry was assigned to both the 72nd and 67th signal battalions. She spent much of her time with the 72nd Signal Battalion which had bases in Iraq. That deployment, though, was now behind her. The first person she wanted to see and hug at the Reno airport was her husband. “We have always been a married military couple,” she said. “We always support each other.” Laura Boldry saw her husband eventually grow into a command sergeant major role while she took a back seat as a captain. They both have a respect for each other’s careers since the first day they dated. “Rob was the first man who supported me in what I wanted to do,” she said. “He allowed me to grow. He challenged me personally and professionally.” They both understand the military’s view on married couple. Laura Boldry said at no time have they served in the same chain of command.
Lt. Col. Laura Boldry receives an award in Afghanistan.
SECOND DEPLOYMENT The next six years passed quickly. Laura Boldry was promoted to captain and she was part of the activation of the 137th Military Police Co., in Reno. “I was a captain for seven years. It was one of the best times in my life,” said Boldry, who was the company commander a little less than four years. “I learned a lot. I grew personally and professionally, and I had one of the best first sergeants, 1st Sgt. Colin Care.” First the warning order and then the actual orders to deploy to Afghanistan arrived. The MP company left Reno in April 2010 and returned in April 2011, the first of several deployments over the next six years for the unit. Boldry’s unit arrived at Camp Marmal, an installation located next to Maulana Jalaluddin Balkhi International Airport in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan. “It took three days to get to most places because of the mountainous roads,” Boldry said, adding the staff flew to most places. The German army conducted its operations there and also ran the hospital. The military presence in Afghanistan increased with a surge of military units that began in 2009. “That was a most exciting time in my career,” she said of her first command. “Exciting, nervous, every emotion you could think of.” The 137th was assigned to the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade out of Fort Carson, Colorado. Boldry said the brigade commander, Col. Daniel Williams, became a mentor to her, and she considers him one of the best mentors she’s had during her military career. During the deployment, Boldry said the 137th provided security at Camp Marmal, but on one occasion, the MPs provided drivers and a personal security detail for Gen. David Petraeus, commander, U.S. Forces–Afghanistan. During the one-year deployment marked by enemy rocket fire aimed at the base, Boldry said her soldiers grew and also performed well. She said four soldiers received the Combat Action Badges. “We were able to bring home all the soldiers,” she said. “We did our jobs and did them well. We were sent over there to do a job, and we did it right.” Although the Nevada soldiers received the same training as the regular Army, she said the late Brig. Gen. Sean Molland, deputy commanding general of Regional Command North from April 2010 to October 2011, didn’t like National Guard. Boldry said every time the Guard made a mistake, he made an example of the unit. The Nevada company, though, proved him wrong. “When we left, he personally gave us an award,” she said. Boldry said she was proud to be the 137th’s commander in Afghanistan. “We had camaraderie among the soldiers,” she said. “They all had tough jobs. They took fire.” During the deployment, Boldry had also made friends with the German officers. Every Sunday, for example, the captains from the multi-national forces would meet for cake and coffee. After the deployment, the Boldrys traveled to Germany on vacation to see her German counterparts.
Retired Command Sgt. Major Robert Boldry and Lt. Col. Laura Boldry have been married since 2003.
TWILIGHT OF HER CAREER Boldry has held several positions during the past 10 years ranging from equal opportunity officer for the land commander, a signal officer for the 17th Sustainment Brigade and now as battalion commander for the 422nd ESB. Boldry has also taken an active role in remembering the three Nevada soldiers and civilian who were killed in the September 2011 IHOP restaurant shooting. She had been involved with an annual run/walk to remember the four victims. Among her mentors and role models Boldry counts Brig. Gen. Michael Hanifan and Col. Mary Devine. “I appreciated the camaraderie with him, and Col. Devine has been an inspiration. As a female, she’s been through the struggles.” She said Col. Joanne Farris, who retired from the military in 2021, was just a call away. Both had similar paths from being enlisted soldiers to officers with key positions within the Nevada Army National Guard. Boldry said she misses Farris since her retirement. Another officer “who paved the way” for many female officers was retired Lt. Col. Ann Demolski, a Vietnam era veteran. Boldry said she was a leader who inspired others. “The women soldiers have been supportive of each other throughout their careers,” she said. Likewise, Boldry has mentored the younger soldiers within her command to become better individuals. “The biggest legacy for me is making things better for everyone else,” Boldry said. Boldry said she has no regrets on her military career. In fact, she made it a career and kept her promise to her daughters to join the military. Her eyes wandered around the room for a moment, and then she smiled, followed by a chuckle. “And my daughters don’t play softball anymore.”