A soldier's romance | February 13, 2008 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto Weekly

- February 13, 2008

A soldier's romance

Disfigured Marine finds love despite injuries

by Sue Dremann

Jason Poole didn't like himself after returning from three tours of duty as a Marine — two of them spent in Iraq. Once, he aspired to be a teacher. He had been tall, good looking and an athlete at Cupertino High School. But an improvised explosive device — an IED — changed his life forever in 2004.

Poole, 25, lost an eye and is deaf in his left ear as a result of the explosion. His body is peppered with shrapnel. He has sustained brain damage that impairs his ability to read, write and spell. As a result of his injuries, the Marine corporal spent two years at the Palo Alto Veteran's Administration hospital.

"I truly hated myself. I hated looking at my face," he said.

Poole thought he might never find a woman who would love him after the devastating blast.

Then, he met Angela Eastman.

Angela hadn't had great experiences with men. She had sworn off men for six years, she said. But a date with A.P., a friend of Poole's, brought Eastman and Poole together. The two met at A.P.'s home in November 2006 and became fast friends. A month later, Poole went to England for the holidays to visit his family. But Angela was constantly in his consciousness, and he wrote to her by e-mail every day for three weeks.

He wrote to ask her out, but she wrote back that she wasn't sure.

"I knew it would mean a lot of work," she said of Poole's injuries. For example, Poole can't drive and so far, can't work.

But Eastman's mother said that Poole must be someone special and caring if he would take the time to write every day from England. Eastman told Poole that when he returned from England, he would have to ask her out in person. When he returned to the By Area, he asked her out and she said yes. "Then I gave her a kiss," he said. The couple has been dating for a year and they are together every day, Poole said.

"The thing I like best — her best quality — is her lovingness and her caring," Poole said.

For Eastman, the challenge was to get Poole to love himself. When his eye was removed, he wouldn't look at her.

"He worries about his face, but I don't see that," she said.

"Jason is so special. He is very kind and funny. He tells me everyday that he loves me," she added.

Poole and Eastman face challenges, mainly with communication, they said. Sometimes in groups, Poole can't hear well and he gets mad at Eastman when he tends to get left out of the conversation. And Poole doesn't always grasp the subtleties of things Eastman says. She is learning to be more direct, she added.

But the minor spats don't dampen their greater relationship, they said. A year after their first date, Poole and Eastman are moving into a townhouse at Moffett Field.

"I believe we'll get married to each other someday," Eastman said, stressing that they are soul mates. "Jason completes my life."