Staff Sergeant Clayton P. Bowen was one of those men. He was killed the day before my birthday, & was my age (well, the age I was then). I did not know him, though the name does sound familiar--he went to Churchill.
His funeral was today.
Army Staff Sgt. Clayton P. Bowen was a soldier who always showed up, a guy you could count on.
There was the time at Fort Jackson, S.C., when Staff Sgt. Phillip Warner had just moved into his house. The guy standing with a friend of Warner's was someone he hadn't seen before, but would soon come to know.
“I hadn't even started working yet and was just happening to do some stuff, and the next thing you know Clay is over there,” he said. “He's coming over helping me do things at the house. He was like gravity.”
I know y'all know where I'm going with this. I probably don't even have to type it out at this point, because if you read this blog regularly not only do you know what I'm about to say, you've probably said it yourself.
But I'm going to say it anyway. Not for my benefit, or that of my regular blog readers. See, one thing SiteMeter has shown me is that I get a fair number of hits from people searching the names of these men that I mention here from time to time. Sharing what Fred wrote about Adam wound up demonstrating that it's most likely family and/or friends who are conducting these searches, looking to see what's been said about their loved ones. So I'll say it even though y'all know the words to this song (sing it with me!):
I don't give a good goddamn about Teddy Kennedy. Scott Stroud called him--accurately--"perhaps the ultimate political Rorschach test." I'm really really Right. I file Teddy Kennedy under Waste of Oxygen.
I don't care about Michael Jackson. I never liked his music. I haven't gained appreciation for it as an adult (the way I've recently done with Nirvana). I don't particularly care that his death was recently ruled a homicide (though, really, lots of folks on teh intarwebz really need to look up what that word actually means, which is not "ZOMG he was MURDAREDED). I don't give a flying fuck who shot him up with what, or why. Srsly.
I give a damn about Clay Bowen. I give a damn about John Hallett, Cory Jenkins, Ronald Sawyer, Dennis Williams, Andrew Lobosco, Matthew Ingram, Justin Pellerin, Brian Wolverton, Paul Dumont Jr, Adam Benjamin, Troy Tom, Jonathan Yanney, Morris Walker, Leopold Damas, William Woods, Jr, Nicholas Roush, Joshua Bernard, William Cahir, John Tinsley, Bruce Ferrell, Patrick Schimmel, Javier Olvera, Tara Smith, Matthew Swanson, Dennis Burrow, Jerry Evans, Matthew Freeman, James Argentine, Travis Babine (I remember being passed by a couple of Patriot Guard riders on their way to his funeral in New Braunfels), Christian Guzman Rivera, Jay Hoskins, Anthony Garcia, Alejandro Granado, Ronald G Luce, Jr, Severin Summers III, Patrick Fitzgibbon, Richard Jones, Jonathan Walls, Alexander Miller, and all the others.
Now, I'm not going to lie and say I cry at night for them. I don't know a one. But I know their like who (thankfully) are still alive. I go to school with veterans. I recognize the backpacks.
They are...people, like everyone else. Some great. Some fairly useless. Most well between those extremes. I am certain the men who died this month ran the exact same gamut. At least two of them were my age. At least one was Fred's age. Far more of them were younger than both of us.
I'm really not sure what I want here, to be honest. I doubt these guys gave a whole lot of thought to their own mortality. Most folks in their twenties don't. As I was recently reminded, they "deal with death mostly in a joking way." They had a job, they did it. They died.
But...Well...I'm a girl. I can't shrug shit like this off. For every single person in that paragraph, there is at least one person huddled in their bed as I write this (at 11 o'clock on a Friday night), curled into the fetal position, wondering why the fuck God hates them. And that's what gets me. I can't be any other way. I didn't know them. I didn't love them. But another woman somewhere did.
I know this truth too: The military conducts 99% of what it does away from the eyes and attention of any sort of media. It's a far better thing, overall. Leave them alone, let them do their job, stay the hell out of the way. I get it. I even get that Ted Kennedy's death is a major news story.
But I'm not going to apologize for finding the media shallow.
(At the risk of this appearing tacked-on: head on over to Texas Ghostrider's blog & read what he's written about someone else who mattered a fuck of a lot more than Michael Jackson. He says pretty much the exact same thing about the media, albeit with a different focus.)
Update: Because I'm not sure who'll see the comments, I'm going to put this one in here:
I knew clay both in, and out of work. I know clays family and friends. Clay was an outstanding soldier and friend. He made a huge impact on training throughout the army. His family and friends gave testament to his impact on them by clogging up San Antonio highways for a four and a half mile long funeral procession in addition to hundreds of calls of support for his family. Clay was the friend you wanted to have and the soldier you you wanted to work with.
SFC Lester Case
Thank you for that. Sounds like Clay was a hell of a person, and the world is duller without him.