By Mark Ambrogi
A few days before Christmas 2007, Shelby and Justin Bowen got a call from their brother, Sgt. Collin J. Bowen, who was stationed in Afghanistan.
“He said, ‘I know I’m done and supposed to be coming home, but the young guys who came into replace me, I think they’re a little green,’” Shelby said.
So Shelby said his brother told them he had volunteered to go into the mountains with new unit for one more 10-day mission to help train the younger members.
“That was the last day we talked to him,” Shelby said. “The last day of his last mission (Jan. 2, 2008) he and two other soldiers were hit with an IED.”
Sgt. Bowen, originally from Marion, Ind., but living in Maryland at the time, was flown back to U.S. but died from the major wounds from the roadside bomb in March 2008. The other two soldiers previously died. Collin was 38 and left behind a wife, Ursula, who has since remarried, and then 3-year-old daughter, Gabriela, along with two daughters, Eric and Kate from a previous marriage.
The Indianapolis Sailing Club made sure the Bowen family knew his service was not forgotten honoring Sgt. Bowen July 8 with a special flag and ceremony. Shelby, who now lives in Fishers, said he previously was a neighbor of ISC member Bob Solomon in Carmel. Solomon helped arrange the ceremony.
“We’re grateful that folks remember not just Collin but all the soldiers who have fought for hundreds of years to protect our country,” Shelby said. “There is a lot of emotion between sadness and gratitude.”
Bowen thanked Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness and Indiana First Lady Janet Holcomb, wife of Gov. Eric Holcomb, for attending the ceremony.
“Whenever I’m invited a veterans event, it’s a very easy yes for me,” Janet said at the ceremony. “I particularly want to thank the Bowen family for their sacrifices with the loss of Sgt. Collin Bowen. We can never repay you for all given to our country and for your tremendous loss.”
Also attending the ceremony was Collin’s brother, Justin, a Fishers resident, and his mother, Carolyn, of Marion.
ISC runs Operation Set Sail, which honors and empowers veterans through sailing. For more, visit operationsetsail.com.