Saturday, September 18, 2004
By KEITH CLINES
A memorial service for William E. “Bill” Bowers will be today – on what would have been his 47th birthday – at 4 p.m. at Laughlin Service Funeral Home.
Bowers, a private contractor who lived in Madison, was killed by gunfire from unknown assailants outside Baghdad on September 10, 2004.
He left for Iraq on August 22, 2004, to head a team from SEI Group Inc., which has a contract for engineering support for electrical power generation and distribution systems for U.S. military installations in Iraq. Bowers, a vice president of SEI in Huntsville, was to return at the end of September. No other SEI employees were involved in the incident, which occurred after Bowers had departed Camp Falcon in Baghdad.
Bowers is the first Madison County resident killed in the war in Iraq.
A memorial service for Bowers was held Friday at Camp Cooke outside Baghdad. He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C.
Survivors include his wife, Evelyn; two children, Brian, 17, and Jennifer, 16; and his parents, William Adam and Betty Marie Bowers of Kathleen, Georgia.
Bowers joined SEI in May 2001 as a program manager for engineering support for military operations and disaster relief, working in several Middle East countries.
He was born September 18, 1957, in Chicago. He graduated from Schaumburgh High School in 1975 and was a member of the school's football and wrestling teams. Bowers was a 1979 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, earning a bachelor's degree in civil engineering.
He was in the top 10 percent of his class and commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers. He later earned a master's degree in mechanical engineering technology at Northern Illinois University and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Theta national honor society.
Bowers also graduated from the Army Ranger School and the Army Engineer Officers Advanced Course. He also was an assistant professor of the Military Science Department at Northern Illinois.
Bowers served at Fort Polk, Louisiana, in Korea, in Hawaii and at Fort Irwin, California. He commanded an engineering unit, and his last military assignment was as the 3rd Army's deputy assistant chief of staff for engineering.
He earned several awards before retiring in 1999, including the Legion of Merit, the Army's second-highest award for meritorious service.
From a contemporary press report:
14 September 2004
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – An engineer for a Huntsville contracting firm who had worked on numerous power projects in the Mideast has been killed by gunfire in Baghdad.
William E. Bowers was killed Friday when he was hit by small arms fire while traveling through Baghdad, according to a statement released by his company, SEI Group Inc., and the Bowers' family. The Madison resident was an engineer with SEI Group, which constructs and maintains facilities for the federal government.
The Huntsville Times, which reported the death Tuesday, said Bowers would have turned 47 on September 18, 2004.
Evelyn Bowers said her husband was returning “from a mundane business meeting” when his vehicle entered an area that was occupied by rebels, who opened fire. The vehicle was riddled with bullets and he was killed instantly.
Evelyn Bowers said her husband would want her and others to continue with their lives.
“He was just that kind of guy,” she said. “I know he would want us to remember him with happy thoughts.”
SEI President Eloy Torrez described Bowers as a positive “can-do person.”
“He was a real patriot. He believed in what he was doing,” Torrez said.
Torrez said Bowers left for Iraq on August 22, 2004, and was to return at the end of this month. Bowers and his project team were in Iraq to work on power distribution and generation systems on U.S. military installations. SEI Group has eight to 10 employees in the Baghdad area at any one time as part of several contracts the company has with the U.S. government.
Bowers, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, joined SEI Group in 2001 as a program manager and had worked on projects in Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Bowers is survived by his wife, Evelyn, and children, Brian, 17, and Jennifer, 16. His parents, William Adam and Betty Marie Bowers, live in Kathleen, Georgia.
Memorial services will be held Friday morning at Camp Cooke outside Baghdad and at 4 p.m. Saturday at Laughlin Service Funeral Home in Huntsville. Bowers will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
By KEITH CLINES
Courtesy of the Times
A Madison engineer with a Huntsville contracting firm was killed by gunfire Friday in Baghdad, eight days before his 47th birthday.
William E. Bowers, a vice president of SEI Group Inc., was hit by small arms fire after he departed Camp Falcon in Baghdad, according to a statement released by SEI and Bowers' family.
No other SEI Group employees were involved in the incident.
A West Point graduate, Bowers is survived by his wife, Evelyn, and children, Brian, 17, and Jennifer, 16. His parents, William Adam and Betty Marie Bowers, live in Kathleen, Georgia.
Memorial services will be held Friday morning at Camp Cooke outside Baghdad and at 4 p.m. Saturday – his birthday – at Laughlin Service Funeral Home. Bowers will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Evelyn Bowers said her husband was returning “from a mundane business meeting from an area in Iraq – he entered an area that was occupied by rebels. They opened fire and the vehicle that he was in was riddled with bullets. He was killed instantly.
“His memory will forever touch those of us that knew him. ?He was the greatest man I ever knew.”
Evelyn Bowers said her husband would want her and others to continue with their lives.
‘That kind of guy'
“He was just that kind of guy,” she said. “I know he would want us to remember him with happy thoughts. He used to say, ‘If crap happens, sometimes you get some on your boots. But it can't slow you down. You have to march on.' That is how I plan to cope – I need to be kept busy and continue on.”
The thoughts and prayers of SEI employees are with the Bowers family and friends in this very difficult time, Eloy Torrez, president of SEI, said in the statement.
“He was a guy who was very positive,” Torrez said of Bowers. “He was a can-do person. And he was a real patriot. He believed in what he was doing.”
SEI Group designs, constructs and maintains facilities for the federal government. It was founded in 1996 by Torrez and has 77 employees.
Bowers would alternate spending several weeks or months at home and in the Middle East, Torrez said. He left for Iraq on Aug. 22 and was to return at the end of this month.
Bowers and his project team were in Iraq to work on power distribution and generation systems on U.S. military installations. SEI Group has eight to 10 employees in the Baghdad area at any one time as part of several contracts the company has with the U.S. government and subcontracts to design, build and maintain infrastructure.
Bowers joined SEI Group in May 2001 as a program manager for engineering support in contracts for military operations and disaster relief. He worked in Huntsville and in Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and Iraq as a program manager and facilities engineer.
Bowers was a star wrestler in high school in Illinois, an active runner who participated in several marathons, and a coach for his son's soccer and baseball youth league teams.
He retired from the Army in 1999 as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Evelyn Bowers said her husband served his country and developed a strong work ethic during 20 years in the Army. Family never came second, although he was frequently away from home, she said.
“There was never anyone that he worked with or for that didn't hold him in tremendous admiration and grow to care about him,” she said.
He was a member of the University of Alabama in Huntsville Civil Engineering Advisory Academy. The William Bowers Engineering Scholarship will be established in his memory at UAH.
36324 LTC William Earl Bowers USA (Retired)
September 18, 1957 – September 10, 2004
I'd like to thank you all for coming here to remember my brother Bill, and to celebrate his life and all that he gave to us.
Bill was not just my older brother – he was my best friend.
He was not just an uncle to my sons and an in-law to my wife – he was their hero.
He was not just a leader to his people – he was an inspiration.
He was not just a soldier – he was a patriot.
He lived by the warrior ethos and applied it throughout his life:
Always place the mission first. He always prioritized his family, his country, and his work. Never leave a fallen comrade behind. He took the heaviest risks and covered his people to make sure that they were safe. Never accept defeat. He put his all into everything he did and taught others to always give their best, whether in sports, in the military, or in business. When our firstborn son was christened, we chose Bill & Evelyn as godparents because we hoped that someday our oldest son might be as great as Bill. We also felt that if anything happened to us, we could think of no better people to care for our legacy. We are pledged to do the same for Bill.
Bill leaves behind his own amazing legacy:
So many soldiers, students, and comrades whose futures he nurtured, whose lives he shaped, and whose souls he touched.
His wife Evelyn who was the love of his life, an amazing partner who was always there for him, who made him very happy, and who held everything together no matter where in the world he was and no matter how long he was gone. She was the reason he could give his all in everything he did, and she was the reason he had great clarity in his life. He trusted her completely, and loved her absolutely, and he always will.
His son Brian whom he cherished so deeply and of whom he was so proud not just for accomplishments that others recognized – the winning goal in soccer, good grades, and popularity – but more so for having a good heart that you can see just as clearly as you can see in Brian the natural ease and grace that Bill had, for choosing a career and a path that gave service to others and for being true to himself. Most of all, he loved Brian for just being Brian: his son.
His daughter Jennifer who always amazed and dazzled him with her energy, her spirit, and her love of life. He was so proud of her drive, of her independence, and of her amazing insight from the time that she was just a little girl to this point where she has become an exceptionally strong and thoughtful person beyond her years. She brought such light to him throughout his life, and he loved being her Dad.
This is how we must remember him, not because it is easy – it is very hard – but because it is the way he would have wanted us to remember him.
Bill, we will miss you, but we know that the world is a much better place because of you.
My son 9-year old son William, who was named after Bill, picked out this poem called “I Vow To Thee, My Country” and recast it for Bill. It seems to tell his story well.
In Memory of William Bowers
Warrior, Teacher, Best Friend, and Hero
“I Vow To Thee, My Country” by Sir Cecil Springs Rice
You vowed to us and to your country
All earthly things above –
Entire and whole and perfect,
The service of your love,
Your love that asked no questions,
Your love that stood the test,
You laid upon the altar the dearest and the best:
Your love that never faltered,
Your love that paid the price,
Your love that made – undaunted – the final sacrifice.
Now there's another country,
Where you've been asked to go –
Most dear to them who love her,
Most great to them who know.
She does not have an Army.
She does not have King.
Her fortress is a faithful heart,
That heals all suffering.
And soul by soul, and silently,
Her patriots' ranks increase.
Her ways are ways of gentleness
And all her paths are Peace.
Bill, as you travel to that next place
Of love and comfort and peace,
We will remember everything about you.
When we feel the strong wind wrapping around us,
We'll know that it is your bear hug, the one that always made us feel so safe and right.
When we hear the patter of rain against our windows,
We will recognize the sound of your voice, full of laughter and energy and humor that always made us feel alive.
When we see the ocean with the sunlight glinting off the surface,
We'll be looking into your eyes that would always twinkled at us like we were sharing a best-friend joke or story.
And when we see the clear blue sky,
We'll recognize your pure heart guiding us to give our best in all that we do.
We know that you are with us for as long as we live.
We will never forget you.
We love you and will carry you in our hearts forever.
- LTC US ARMY
- DATE OF BIRTH: 09/18/1957
- DATE OF DEATH: 09/10/2004
- BURIED AT: SECTION 25 SITE 3549
- ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard