Thursday, March 01, 2007

Matthew Bowe laid to rest

CORAOPOLIS - The community stood at attention Thursday to honor Pfc. Matthew Cory Bowe.

Pupils from St. Joseph Catholic School, children dressed in Boy Scout and Girl Scout uniforms, military veterans and people who paused from their work day were among those who clutched American flags and lined Fifth Avenue in Coraopolis as the hearse carrying the flag-draped coffin holding Bowe's body drove past.

It did not matter if those gathered knew Bowe only by name or as the aspiring doctor who loved his family more than anything and longed to one day start a family of his own. They all had the same purpose: To mourn and pay tribute to the 19-year-old combat medic from Moon Township who was killed Feb. 19 along with two other soldiers when an improvised explosive device struck their vehicle as it traveled in Baghdad.

Inside the Presbyterian Church of Coraopolis, a few hundred people, including some of Bowe's former Moon Area High School football teammates wearing red and white letter jackets, gathered to hear about the man many remembered as a quiet, unassuming, polite student or the young boy who delivered the newspaper and shoveled snow for his neighbors.

Bowe was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, N.Y.

Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, the attending officer of the 10th Mountain Division, presented Bowe's parents, John and Lori Bowe, with the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and other service medals in honor of their son's sacrifice.

While the biblical name of Matthew stands for a servant of God, Tata said Bowe was just that to his nation, particularly because his job was to tend to the wounds of others, even if it meant putting himself in harm's way.

"I can tell you from the heart that medics are your favorite people. They are selfless, caring and giving. And Matthew was all of those," Tata said.

The Rev. Dennis Sevick met Bowe for the first time 12 years ago, and he remembered that the boy carried a Bible under his arm and acted like a guardian angel to his sister Amanda and brother, John Jr., by making sure they went to Sunday school.

Those who knew Bowe have their own personal reflections of him, but Sevick identified two memories everyone who learned of his death will remember.

"They will remember another brave soldier who died," Sevick said. "They will also remember that 19 is too young to die."

To attest to Bowe's selflessness and to give solace to his family, Sevick read a letter written to Bowe's parents by Krista Cahill, whose husband, Maj. Kevin Cahill, was Matthew's commanding officer.

In October, Bowe rushed to the aid of his close friend Thomas Hewitt after Hewitt was gravely wounded from an IED strike, Cahill wrote. Bowe also used his body to shield Hewitt as another device exploded only yards away. Hewitt later died from his injuries.

"It may be a small consolation during this hard time, but you should know that your son's actions enabled Thomas' parents to see him one more time before he finally passed," Cahill wrote.

A lifelong football fan and 2005 graduate of Moon Area, Bowe was never an all-conference or all-state player, but he worked hard enough to earn a spot on special teams his senior season.

Moon head coach Mark Capuano described Bowe as a humble young man who always put other people first, which is to say he died the way he lived.

"He never complained about playing time or not starting when he was a senior," Capuano wrote in a letter to The Times. "Sometimes he had to miss practice because he had to take care of his family. Matt did what needed to be done, and he did not complain.

"He wanted to become a doctor so he could serve others, so he saw the military as a way to get his education. He became a medic in the army. He was reaching his goals and along the way he touched thousands of lives. We are all better off from knowing Matthew Bowe. Matt may have been only 19 when he died, but in those few years he definitely left his footprints on our lives."

From the County Times

Related Link:
Matthew Bowe remembered

Related Link:
Matthew C. Bowe dies of injuries from I.E.D.