HONORED: Pair of WWII vets among those honored during Elamville event

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7055 in Brundidge hosted three Veterans Day ceremonies Saturday at the Veterans Memorial in Brundidge, the post home and at Elam Cemetery in Elamville.

Alabama Air Force Reserve Col. Ben Bowden spoke to a large gathering of veterans and area patriots at Elam Cemetery at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Bowden said he always wanted to be a veteran.

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“Since I was old enough to remember, I wanted to be in the military,” he said. “Not just be in the military but to go to war.”

He said his father, Lawrence Bowden’s, service in Korea and the National Guard were driving factors. He joined the military through the ROTC program at the University of Alabama, spent about five years on active duty with the Air Force and then entered the reserves. In 2008, he was deployed to Balad Air Force Base, Iraq as a legal advisor to the special operations air wing.

Bowden said all veterans have stories to tell and one common denominator in their stories is the story of sacrifice.

“As veterans, we sacrifice our identity when we first get to basic training,” he said. “We sacrifice career opportunities when we legally obligate ourselves to a tour of service. We sacrifice relationships when we constantly move to new assignments or deploy. And, all too often, a veteran will make the ultimate sacrifice for his country.”

Bowden told the story of SSgt Nathan Chapman, a member of the U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces group, who told his father after 9/11,  “America’s going to war over this and they’re not going without me.”

Bowden said Chapman was severely wounded while coming under fire in Afghanistan but he expended every round in his M4 carbine before he collapsed from blood loss. Chapman was the first military member to die in Afghanistan.

In closing, Bowden spoke about veterans’ issues, which he said are important.

“But, in my opinion, if you asked most veterans what they really want, you’ll be surprised to find out it has nothing to do with health care, a pension or even recognition,” he said. “What most veterans want to know is that their sacrifice was worth it – that their particular sacrifice meant something.

“As you honor veterans by celebrating Veterans Day, what I hope you remember is that you honor them most by doing your part to keep this a great nation. May God bless each of you and may God continue to bless the United States of America.”