Boxers or briefs?
A lot of guys consider that a personal question, but the secret has been revealed for a 19-year-old Fort Worth soldier, thanks to The New York Times, the Internet and, well, the Taliban.
Army Spec. Zachary Boyd, a 2007 graduate of Keller Central High School, was in his sleeping quarters this week when the Taliban attacked in the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan. Boyd rushed to a defensive position clad in his helmet, vest and boxers -- the pink ones decorated with the "I Love NY" slogan.
As luck would have it, an Associated Press photographer was working at Firebase Restrepo in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan’s Kunar Province, where Boyd is stationed.
His boxers ended up on the front page of the Times.
His mother was surprised to see that her son was in the Times, but she was not surprised that he was wearing unusual skivvies.
"It was typical," she said. "He has always been an interesting little character."
Sheree Boyd recalled her annoyance at how her "Zacho" used to "sag" his oversized jeans to reveal the tops of his boxers.
"I was always telling him to pull up his pants," she said, chuckling. "I would give him a wedgie to make him do it. As a mom, you want your son to look nice.
"But he has always been one to run around in his boxers. He even went and played golf one time in his boxers."
The photo has become popular on the Internet. Commentators have remarked that the boxers are a fitting tribute to New York City, considering the soldier is battling Taliban fighters, whose Al-Qaeda associates attacked the World Trade Center.
Boyd was home on leave last March, but his return flight was delayed in New York City. A buddy’s sister took him on a whirlwind tour and that’s when he bought the pink shorts, his mother said.
Zachary called his parents Monday night to let them know that the photo might appear in the Times.
He told them that the red t-shirt shown under his vest is from Woolley’s Frozen Custard on Beach Street in Fort Worth -- one of his favorite spots.
"He said, ’I hear the Times is what they put on the president’s desk,’ " she said. "Then he told us, ’I may not have a job anymore after the president has seen me out of uniform.’ "
He no doubt selected pink boxers as a joke to share with his fellow soldiers, Sheree Boyd said.
"They like to have a good time," she explained about the soldiers, "to deal with the tension."
There has been plenty of that; just read the news. His mother said he has been in at least 200 firefights.
"They have something going on just about every day, and some times all day long," Sheree Boyd said. "As a mother, it really turns your stomach up."
She said that her son had planned to attend Texas Tech University on an ROTC scholarship, but later chose to serve as an enlisted man first.
"He wanted to be an officer, but he didn’t want to be one that the men would not respect," she said. "He felt he needed to know the Army from the bottom up to be an effective leader."
And, she added, "He remembered 9-11, and how devastating that was," so he decided to "step up."
Boyd said she and her husband, Tommy, worry that their son may have "too much courage," but they’re proud that he is dedicated to his fellow soldiers and their mission. He’s expected home in June, if his tour doesn’t get extended.
"He feels like he should be doing his part to defend our nation," she said. "He is a very patriotic and very determined young man who is very sure that we need to do this, not just for us, but the Afghani people as well."
BILL MILLER, 817-390-7684