Saturday, April 21, 2007

Larry Bowman remembered

Staff Sgt. Christopher Shafer lingered after the memorial service to honor his friend who died in Iraq.

He stood in the Fort Lewis Main Chapel on Thursday, staring at the display of white flowers, pictures, combat boots and the upright rifle, standing barrel down with the helmet placed on top.

Slowly, he turned and sat in the second row of chapel benches. He bowed his head and later wiped tears from his eyes as he remembered Sgt. Larry R. Bowman, who died in Baghdad on Friday from wounds suffered when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb.

Shafer said he was Bowman’s squad leader.

“He came to me as my soldier,” Shafer said during the service, “but he became my friend.”

Bowman, 29, was from Granite Falls, N.C. He was on his second tour of duty in Iraq, and was promoted from specialist to sergeant after his death.

He was the 96th soldier from Fort Lewis to die in Iraq. He is survived by his wife, Michelle; his mother; and an older sister. They didn’t attend the memorial, Fort Lewis officials said. They were in North Carolina, preparing to bury him.

After the service, soldiers formed up side-by-side in two long columns in the center aisle. A stream of uniformed men and women slowly flowed up to the memorial display. Each two soldiers in the front gave final salutes, then split off from one other to make room for the next two.

Outside, the sun shone. Amy Roznowski, dressed in black, stood quietly with a group of friends. She said she was one of Michelle Bowman’s best friends.

“They were very much in love,” she said.

Michelle Bowman spoke to the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer newspaper about her husband. She said he was making plans for his return on July 21. They wanted to have a child. He wanted to buy a jeep and eat barbecue.

She said they planned to climb Mount Rainier this summer.

“I’m going to climb that mountain in his memory,” she said.

Her husband joined the Army in February 2003, reported to Fort Lewis in October 2005 and was assigned to the 513th Transportation Company. His earlier tour in Iraq was with the 299th Engineer Battalion of Fort Hood, Texas, from August 2003 to April 2004.

He returned to Iraq last July with his Fort Lewis unit.

A heavy-vehicle driver, Bowman had volunteered for convoy duty from Kuwait into Iraq where he was killed, Capt. Kevin Mateer said at the memorial service.

Shafer said his friend was eager to learn and ready to work. He would joke and make people laugh. He also yelled at his computer when it didn’t do what he wanted.

Mateer, a chaplain, said Bowman “lived life well.”

Michelle said her husband went by a motto: “Life has a taste that the sheltered will never know.”

From the News-Tribune

Related Link:
Larry R. Bowman dies of injuries from I.E.D.