Saturday, April 14, 2007

William Bowling laid to rest

BOONEVILLE --As a blue hearse carrying 24-year-old William Glenn Bowling's body rolled past green pastures and trees that are just beginning to bloom in Owsley County, men, women and children watched silently with tears in their eyes and hands on their hearts.

Many had shared the same thought during the day: This wasn't supposed to happen. Not to Bowling.

Bowling, a sergeant in the Army, was supposed to come home April 29 from his second tour of duty in Iraq. He was supposed to watch his wife, Jennifer (Evans) Bowling, give birth to their second child in May. His 2-year-old daughter, Hannah, was supposed to come to know what a fine man her daddy was. Instead, as the years fade, so will her memories of him.

On April 1, Bowling was one of four soldiers killed when the Humvee they were riding in struck a roadside bomb southwest of Baghdad. They were rushing to help fellow soldiers, who earlier had also encountered a bomb, when the explosion occurred, Army officials said.

At his funeral yesterday, Army commanders, state senators, war veterans and Gov. Ernie Fletcher described Bowling as a hero. They said he was a courageous man who worked hard and did each task well and with a smile on his face.

"Knowing he could be placed in harm's way again, he raised his right hand and said, 'I'll go, if you'll send me,'" Fletcher said. "Some folks may question the work that's going on, but almost without fail, if you ask the soldiers that are there, they'll tell you the work they are doing overseas is good work. I believe it's because of their work over there that we haven't seen another attack on our soil."

Bowling, who joined the Army in 2003 and re-enlisted in 2005, was assigned to the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, N.Y. His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Metal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon and Combat Action Badge.

Bowling's wife, Jennifer, said she supported her husband's decision to re-enlist. She said it was a cause he truly believed in.

More than 210 people filled the seats and lined the walls of Booneville Funeral Home to say goodbye to Bowling.

Many remembered him not as a soldier but as a loving father and husband who got a kick out of watching Will Ferrell movies and who was a huge fan of racer Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Bowling was born in Scott County, Ind., the son of Adam Miller of Wetzlar, Germany, and Kathleen Bowling of Crothersville, Ind. He later moved with his mother to Beattyville, the town he called home.

Before enlisting in the Army, Bowling worked at a Beattyville computer business. That's where he met Jennifer.

On Groundhog Day four years ago, Bowling finally worked up the courage to ask Jennifer out on a date. They saw How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, a romantic comedy.

It wasn't his type of movie, but Bowling was a gentleman. He and Jennifer quickly became inseparable. They married soon after, on July 23, 2003.

Bowling planned to join the Kentucky State Police and to build a house in Beattyville.

One speaker, an Army general, told of how eager Bowling was to find out whether his second child, due next month, was a girl or boy. As he spoke, tears streamed down Jennifer Bowling's face.

As the hearse carrying Bowling made the winding trip down Ky. 11 to Evans Cemetery, groups of residents, mourners and motorcyclists stood alongside the road in the rain to honor Bowling's final ride. Some held signs bearing messages such as, "Thank you for your sacrifice." Every hand held an American flag.

At the cemetery, guns broke the silence.

Lips trembled as tears mixed with the falling rain. The crowd bunched together near Bowling's flag-draped coffin. Strangers shared umbrellas.

Army officials encouraged mourners to use the day as a time to remember and honor Bowling, as well as to rejoice in his entrance into eternal life.

"These brave young men and women are not just the hope of America, they are the hope of the world," U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a letter that was read to the family. "And they come from places like Beattyville."

From the Herald Leader

Related Link:
William G. Bowling dies of injuries from I.E.D.