Sunday, April 08, 2007

William G. Bowling dies of injuries from I.E.D.

Sgt. William G. Bowling of Beattyville was looking forward to coming home from Iraq on leave later this month, and was excited about seeing his new baby, who would be born by then.

He and his wife, Jennifer, exchanged Internet messages about their plans only last Friday.

But by late Sunday, Bowling was dead, killed in the explosion of a homemade bomb southwest of Baghdad. Bowling, 24, was serving his second tour in Iraq. He was one of four U.S. soldiers killed in the blast, all members of the Army's 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum, N.Y.

Funeral arrangements for Bowling still were pending yesterday. It is unclear when his body might be returned home.

Jennifer Bowling said by phone from Beattyville yesterday that she is still in shock over the news, and that her doctor has placed her on bed rest until her baby, due in about two weeks, is born. She doesn't know whether it will be a girl or a boy. The couple's first child, daughter Hannah, will turn 2 in August.

"I'm just trying to take it day by day right now," Jennifer said.

William Bowling grew up in Beattyville, an only child. His mother now lives in Indiana; his father, who also served in the Army, lives in Germany.

Jennifer Bowling said she and Bowling met about six years ago when both were working for Affiliated Computer Services in Beattyville. Love, however, did not flower right away.

"We were friends for a good while before we started dating," Jennifer said. "But we just always got along."

She said Bowling was an avid sports fan, following both the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL and NASCAR stock car racing. He was a fan of Dale Earnhardt until the race driver died in a crash, and then rooted for his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

William and Jennifer were married in the spring of 2003, shortly after he joined the Army and completed basic training at Fort Benning, Ga.

Jennifer said she went along with her husband's decision to enlist, though she was worried.

"I guess I wouldn't have worried so much if there was not a war going on," she said. "I was leery at first, but I supported him all the way."

Bowling's decision to enlist was no spur-of-the-moment act.

"He was at a point in his life where he just felt like he needed to enlist," Jennifer Bowling said. "He thought about joining right after 9/11, and he thought about it some more after that. It was just something he thought he needed to do."

Bowling served as an infantryman in Iraq in 2004-2005, and when he re-enlisted later in 2005 he joined the military police. He was sent back to Iraq last August.

"He loved the work he did," Jennifer said. "He supported the country, and he really believed in what he was doing over there."

But behind the military exterior, Bowling was a man who cared deeply about family and friends, she said

"He loved his family, especially his daughter," Jennifer.

The last picture of the three was taken on the day he left for Iraq last August.

Jennifer Bowling, who is living with her parents in Beattyville, said the two talked or exchanged e-mail messages almost every day while Bowling was overseas. Lately, they had talked a lot about his upcoming leave -- he was to fly home on April 29 -- and how their second child would be born and waiting when he got home.

When they exchanged instant messages on Friday, they talked about the baby, and how Bowling had recently been promoted to sergeant, and how he'd found time to take some college classes.

"We just talked about everyday things," Jennifer said.

They never imagined it would be their last time to talk.

From the Press