Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Robert M. McDowell dies of injuries from I.E.D.

Army Sgt. Robert M. McDowell wasn't present for the birth of his son, but a leave from his post in Iraq last month allowed him to visit with his newborn and wife.

After the visit, McDowell left his Fort Drum, N.Y., base to return to Iraq on March 23. Nine days later, an improvised explosive device exploded near his vehicle, killing him and three others.

McDowell, a 1996 Deer Park High School graduate, had been in the Army for nearly 10 years, having joined two years after graduating from high school.

McDowell enjoyed the Army so much that he questioned himself on why he waited and didn't join the Army right after high school, said McDowell's brother, Michael, of Pearland.

"He loved what he did. He always felt like he was doing the right thing. I don't think he would have done anything else. He loved the guys he served with," Michael McDowell said.

In high school, Robert McDowell wasn't in ROTC but got the military bug from his father, who was a Navy reservist, Michael McDowell said.

Robert McDowell, 30, died Sunday in Baghdad. He was assigned to the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, N.Y.

Also killed were Staff Sgt. David A. Mejias, 26, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Staff Sgt. Eric R. Vick, 25, of Spring Hope, N.C., and Spc. William G. Bowling, 24, of Beattyville, Ky.

McDowell was on his second tour of duty to Iraq.

His battalion deployed in September and is scheduled to return in August.

Aside from a wife and son, McDowell also is survived by a 6-year-old daughter and his parents.

His mother and stepfather live in Deer Park; his father lives in Mobile, Ala.

"It's still sinking in," Michael McDowell said. His mother and stepfather left earlier this week to be with his sister-in-law in New York, he said.

McDowell said he has been searching the Internet and awaiting word from the Department of Defense for information on his brother's death.

"I haven't heard," he said. "That's all I've been doing the last couple of days, trying to find out what happened."

From the Chronicle