Collin J. Bowen – Sergeant First Class, United States Army

Click here for a special website devoted to Sergeant Bowen

U .S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release

March 15, 2008

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Staff Sergeant Collin J. Bowen, 38, of Millersville, Maryland, died March 14, 2008, at Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas, of wounds suffered Jan. 2 in Khowst Province, Afghanistan, when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 175th Infantry Regiment, Maryland Army National Guard, Towson, Maryland.

15 March 2008:

Army Staff Sergeant Collin J. Bowen had finished his last mission in Afghanistan and was scheduled to come home to his wife and daughter in Perry Hall, Maryland.

But when asked to ride along on a final 10-day mission, Sergeant Bowen, 38, agreed.

“That's the type of person he was,” said his brother, Justin Bowen, 36. “My brother was a person who was very dedicated and loyal and without question one of the hardest-working people I've ever known.”


On January 2, 2008, the final day of that last mission, Sergeant Bowen suffered major injuries from a roadside bomb, including burns over 50 percent of his body. He was returned to the U.S. for treatment at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, where his family stayed by his bedside, praying for his recovery.

Yesterday, the Perry Hall resident died of complications from his injuries, and the family prepared to bury him at Arlington National Cemetery.

“He really was a soldier's soldier,” said Justin Bowen, an attorney from Indianapolis. “He … loved the Army and gave it everything he had, literally.”

Sergeant Bowen was injured in the Khowst province of Afghanistan in an attack that reportedly killed two other soldiers.

A native of Marion, Indiana, and recipient of both the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, Sergeant Bowen earned a degree in computer science at UMBC in 2005, said college spokesman Mike Lurie.

Sergeant Bowen lived in Maryland for most of the past two decades, including in Frederick and Baltimore, as well as Perry Hall, said his brother.

He was stationed at Fort Meade after basic training and fell in love with the area and people, and stayed, the brother said.

Sergeant Bowen met his wife, Ursula, at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County when he was enrolled in a Spanish class she taught. They married five years ago and had one daughter, Gabriela, who is 3.

He also had two daughters from a previous marriage – Erin, 13, and Katelyn, 10, who live in Westminster.

Mrs. Bowen said her husband learned to take care of others as an infantryman but maintained the same selfless manner outside the military. “What people always said about him is how much he cared for people,” she said. “He was a true friend.”

Sergeant Bowen's commitment to military service came naturally, his brother said. Their father, Michael Bowen, served in the Army in the 1970s, and Justin Bowen served three years. Sergeant Bowen was the eldest of three brothers. Shelby Bowen, 34, also lives in Indianapolis.

Their uncle, Dean Neal of Marion, Indiana, said that enlisting was Sergeant Bowen's lifelong ambition: He joined the Army at 18 and served in Korea, Japan and other locations.

UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski III sent an announcement to the university community yesterday, expressing sadness. At Sergeant Bowen's graduation, Hrabowski recognized the soldier for his service to his country, Justin Bowen said. He said his brother was determined to earn his college degree, despite being called back for military service three times while taking classes.

“[Dr. Hrabowski] asked my brother to stand up and recognized him for being a person who served his country admirably and continued to return [to college] after he was activated each time. He stuck with it,” Justin Bowen said. “He asked him to stand up in front of the entire student body and … told my brother's story. That was a very proud moment for us.”

The Bowen family also has been telling the sergeant's story on a Web site that has garnered attention from well-wishers across the country.

On the site, thousands of people nationwide posted comments hoping for Bowen's recovery, and offering condolences yesterday after learning that he had died.

Justin Bowen said the messages had helped the family – and Sergeant Bowen.

“We would occasionally print the messages that people would write and take them in to Collin and read them to him,” said Justin Bowen. “He was definitely in there, and he heard those messages. We know that we heard them.”

Bowen to be buried at Arlington

Staff Sergeant Collin Bowen's final resting place will be in Arlington National Cemetery.
Saturday, March 15, 2008

His brother, Justin Bowen, confirmed in a voice mail message late Friday that Collin will be interred at the Army's national military cemetery in northern Virginia.

Justin also said the family is trying to arrange a stop for Collin in Marion, pending Army permission. Justin expects final details will be decided Monday or Tuesday but said a memorial for Collin will be held in Marion regardless of whether or not Collin is able to be brought here.

Arlington National Cemetery is an Army-administered national cemetery in northern Virginia that is also the final resting place of two U.S. presidents, four Chief Justices of the Supreme Court and thousands of America's fallen soldiers.

Collin Bowen died Friday after a 72-day battle with injuries suffered during a explosion January 2, 2008 in Afghanistan.

Marion soldier remembered as ‘America's son'

By Cathy Kightlinger
Courtesy of the Indy Star
20 March 2008

Collin J. Bowen Memorial Scholarship Fund

MARION, Indiana – At his funeral service today, Army Staff Sergeant Collin J. Bowen's mother referred to her boy as “America's son.”

Carolyn Smith greeted about 500 mourners who traveled to Grace Community Church in Marion to honor Bowen, who died Friday from wounds suffered January 2, 2008, in the eastern Afghanistan province of Khost, a troubled region on the Pakistani border, according to the U.S.-led military coalition.

Bowen's vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Two other soldiers — Lieutenant Colonel Richard Berrettini, 52, Wilcox, Pennsylvania, and Sergeant Shawn Hill, 37, Wellford, South Carolina — died in the explosion.

Bowen, who grew up in Marion and earned a Purple Heart, will be buried Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery.

In Marion today, Bowen's flag-draped coffin sat at the front of the church as his two younger brothers, Justin and Shelby, eulogized him — telling stories of their childhood and Bowen's last days in a Texas military hospital.

Law enforcement officers carry the casket of Army Staff Sergeant Collin J. Bowen into the Grace Community Church in Marion

Justin Bowen, Indianapolis, told mourners that Collin wanted to Afghanistan and he volunteered for the mission that brought his death.

An inexperienced commander asked the veteran soldier to go on the 10-day mission. “Collin did not want to die,” Justin said. “He wanted to contribute and do his part.”

That was characteristic of the soldier, family and friends said. He was a competitive athlete, a dedicated team member and not one to give up easily, they said.

“A word that I have heard used about Collin very often these last few days is passionate,” said Rev. Richard Weisenberger, pastor of St. Paul's Catholic Church in Marion. “He was passionate about is family. He was passionate about his country. He was passionate about everything he did.”

The 38-year-old reservist had been hospitalized since January 6, 2008, at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Bowen's brothers had spent the past 10 weeks traveling from Indianapolis to the San Antonio-area hospital. Repeatedly, they visited their 5-foot-6 brother, known for his determination and competitive spirit.

“He is the shortest of all of us, and all of his friends,” Justin said last week. “It's almost like he was on a mission from the day he came out of my mom's womb.”

Collin, who underwent multiple surgeries and badly burned in the attack, volunteered to go to Afghanistan in November 2006.

Bowen's survivors, in addition to his mother and brothers: wife, Ursula; daughters, Gabriela, Katelyn and Erin; father, Michael J. Bowen.

Bowen, who graduated from Marion High School in 1988, was the 17th service member with Indiana ties to die since the U.S. sent troops to Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks, and the first this year. In the war in Iraq, 102 members of the military with Hoosier ties have died.

Soldier's Burial Wish Is Fulfilled

Maryland Guardsman Had Helped Train Afghan Soldiers
By Mark Berman
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Michael Bowen at the graveside service at Arlington Cemetery for his son, Army Staff Sergeant Collin J. Bowen.

By Mark Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 26, 2008; Page B03

Staff Sergeant Collin J. Bowen was two weeks away from returning home to Maryland. He'd gone to Afghanistan at his own request, and even though he had completed his last mission, he volunteered for another. On his way back, just six miles from base, his vehicle was hit by a makeshift bomb in Afghanistan's Khost province.

That was January 2, 2008. Bowen held on for more than two months, undergoing 13 surgeries and traveling from Afghanistan to a military hospital in Texas. He died March 14 at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

“He felt like it was his calling to train other soldiers,” Bowen's brother Shelby told The Washington Post this month. “He really believed in what the U.S. was doing there, and he really enjoyed it.”

Yesterday, hundreds of family members and friends gathered to pay tribute to Bowen, as his wish to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery was fulfilled.

On a Web site devoted to honoring Bowen, his wife, Ursula, describes how Bowen had expressed his desire to be buried at Arlington during several Memorial Day visits there. She told him that if he died first, she would make sure that he was buried there.

“Then he said, well it's not that easy, you have to be a war hero to even be considered, so it's unlikely for that to happen,” she wrote. “Who would have known that his wishes would come true much earlier than anyone could have guessed.”

The Web site tracked Bowen's status from his injury through his burial.

On Jan. 18, his 38th birthday, his aunt Trish and his wife visited him and sang “Happy Birthday.” When they entered the room, he followed them with his eyes and blinked twice to acknowledge them. It was the first time they had seen movement and response from his eyes.

In a letter from November provided to the site by his brother Justin, Bowen seemed in great spirits as he shared some good-natured jokes with Shelby and Justin, his younger brothers.

“I'm doing fine,” Bowen also wrote. “I've started counting down the days. I should start moving to get out of here shortly after Christmas and I hope to be home by the end of January.”

Yesterday, mourners gathered at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hyattsville for a service before the burial. Ursula Bowen helped their 3-year-old daughter, Gabriela, out of the car and into her coat for the burial service. Bowen's wife and parents, Michael Bowen and Carolyn Smith, were presented with folded flags. Bowen also had two daughters, Erin, 13, and Katelyn, 10, from a previous marriage.

Bowen was the 476th service member killed in Afghanistan or Iraq to be buried at Arlington, cemetery officials said.

Shelby Bowen said his brother's work in Afghanistan involved training members of the Afghan army. During his 14 years of military service, he received several honors, including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Army Commendation Medal.

Bowen was a member of the 1st Battalion, 175th Infantry Regiment, Maryland Army National Guard based in Towson, Md., but was assigned to the Afghanistan National Army Embedded Training Team, Major General Bruce F. Tuxill, Adjutant General of Maryland, said in a statement.

Bowen was from Marion, Ind., and had lived in Maryland, mostly in the Baltimore area, for two decades. In 2005, he graduated from the University of Maryland Baltimore County with a degree in computer science.

27 May 2008:

BALTIMORE – Ursula Bowen, caught between strong feelings, reminded everyone why Memorial Day is a trying time for those who have lost family members during war.

Colonel William Sean Lee, right, pauses with Ursula Bowen and her daughter during a Memorial Day observance in Timonium, Maryland

“It’s a mix of emotions, because I’m so proud to be here as his wife,” said Bowen, of Perry Hall, during the annual Memorial Day ceremony Monday at the Circle of Immortals at Dulaney Memorial Gardens in Timonium.

Her husband, and father of three, Sergeant First Class Collin Bowen, 38, died from wounds when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle in Afghanistan on March 14, 2008.

At the time, he and fellow soldiers were on their way to base on the last day of a 10-day mission. He was later awarded a Bronze Star for his bravery during combat.

“It’s hard being here with this little girl and his two other daughters who won’t have a father for the rest of their lives,” said Bowen, referring to the couple’s daughter, Gabriela, 3. Bowen also has two other young daughters from a previous marriage.

Lieuenant Governor Anthony Brown and Maj. Gen. Bruce Tuxill, adjutant general with the Maryland National Guard, gave two of the ceremony’s main addresses before a crowd of a couple hundred.

Since the war in Iraq began, more than 90 residents have died. More than 1,000 Marylanders still remain overseas, but hundreds are expected to return by the month’s end, Brown said.

The Circle of Immortals, dedicated in 1967, is specifically set aside for Maryland residents killed in action. This year, 10 soldiers with ties to Maryland were honored, all of whom died in Iraq since the previous year’s ceremony.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 01/18/1970
  • DATE OF DEATH: 03/14/2008

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