Sunday, November 23, 2008

I Made The Paper

MARIETTA: At GI’s side, she was a doll whole time
By Moni Basu

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Consider this: In a land where U.S. soldiers are dying and women remain covered under burqas, an American real estate agent in a black skirt, pumps and lipstick journeys across harsh terrain for almost a year. Through it all, her smile never wanes.

Now consider this: Connie Engel was thrown from the backs of Humvees and Chinooks, endured the firm grasp of a highly curious turbaned man, and lost her left hand in Afghanistan. Still she kept smiling.

And bobbling.

“Little Connie,” as she came to be known, spent a year traveling in a war zone tucked between socks, measuring tape, water and ammunition in the assault pack of 1st Lt. James Partamian.

That’s because she’s a bobblehead doll that Partamian discovered among samples of bricks and other supplies at BRPH, the Marietta architectural firm where he works. He didn’t know the real Connie Engel, only that the bobblehead was ascribed with that name. When he deployed to Afghanistan in May 2007, the Georgia Army National Guard soldier decided to take Connie along.

He photographed Connie on the hood of a Humvee and by the entrance to a U.S. military base, dust billowing behind her. Back in Georgia, no one noticed the bobblehead doll was gone because the office was reorganizing at the time. That is, until Partamian started e-mailing pictures back to his friends.

“I just thought it was kind of funny. Amusing,” Partamian said.

An Afghan interpreter asked Partamian: “Who is this lady, sir?”

“I don’t know,” Partamian answered.

He had never really thought about it. Who was the real Connie Engel?

When it was time to leave Afghanistan, Partamian packed Connie in a tough box that the Army shipped home. But the truck carrying the box was robbed. Connie never made it home.

On his 38th birthday, Partamian’s wife planned a surprise lunch for him at Chow Baby at Cobb Galleria. He noticed a woman wearing a black suit who looked familiar. He recognized her but didn’t know why.

“Are you someone famous?” he asked.

Someone at the table shouted: “It’s Connie!”

Engel, a commercial real estate agent and partner in Childress Klein Properties, had ordered the bobblehead dolls several years ago to use as a marketing gimmick.

One somehow landed at Partamian’s workplace. He was thrilled to know there really was a person behind the doll.

Through mutual friends and colleagues, Partamian’s wife had discovered Engel.

“To James,” Engel wrote over a photograph of the bobblehead doll wearing a computer enhanced Purple Heart. “I am honored to have joined you in Afghanistan. Thank you for your service.”

She also gave Partamian a gift: a brand-new bobblehead doll.

Next destination for “Little Connie”? She’s heading to Guyana with Partamian, where he and other Army engineers will help build a medical clinic.

Not as dangerous, but still a place Connie Engel will probably only experience through her bobblehead likeness.

Comments on "I Made The Paper"


Anonymous Graf's ATA said ... (8:44 AM) : 

great article. Thanks


Blogger Newman said ... (8:25 AM) : 


My name is Anthony Newman, and I work on the website MesotheliomaHelp.Net.The reason I have contacted you is because I have found your military blog and wanted to ask you if you would be
interested in helping me spread the word about Mesothelioma by placing a link to my site on yours. Mesothelioma,
a form of cancer, is a terrible, incurable disease that occurs from exposure to asbestos. The reason military members
in particular are at risk are because of asbestos's cheap cost and ability to shield both heat and fire. It was a very
sought after building material by the military and was used for insulation in both military buildings and ships. Many
members of the military may have been exposed to asbestos in military buildings, including mess halls and barracks.
Those who traveled and fought abroad may have been exposed on naval vessels, an area of the military that saw a high
demand for asbestos use. Although the military discontinued use of asbestos in new construction in 1970, there may be
several veterans out there who were exposed and may not even know it. With your help, we can spread the information so
that anyone who has served our country can find the help that they need if they think they may be suffering from Mesothelioma.

In closing, I want to assure you personally that I am a real person, and not some automated program. Us folks who work for
MesotheliomaHelp.Net are all dedicated to helping folks with Mesothelioma find the medical, professional, and legal help that
they may require. If you are interested in providing us with a link on your site, please reply at your convenience to
anthony(at)mesotheliomahelp(dot)net and I will forward you our link specifics. We would also be happy to link back to your site.
In any event, I thank you for your service to our great country.

Anthony Newman


Anonymous Partamian said ... (7:35 PM) : 

Interesting site, and rather ironic that your blog is coming from Afganistan...But then, you are probably following in your forefather's footsteps! A couple of thousand years ago, when the Persians couldn't quell the rebellious Afghan tribes, they send Armenian troops to Afghanistan. Kind of killing two birds with one stone, let the two freedom loving people fight each other off. I guess history does repeat itself - somewhat -.

Best Regards
Partamian K.


post a comment