Bowen lived in Cleveland but was from Berlin, Md., where he graduated in 1983 from Stephen Decatur High School. He was assigned to the 216th Engineer Battalion, a unit of the Ohio National Guard that is based in a Cleveland suburb.
Three weeks before his death, Bowen helped rescue a fellow Guardsman wounded in a rocket attack. Ron Eaton, of Lakewood, Ohio, was carrying a box of Gatorade out of a commissary at a military base about 50 miles north of Baghdad on June 16 when the men came under attack. Eaton, 35, said a grenade knocked both soldiers off their feet and sprayed shrapnel that cut him in the abdomen, liver and arm. “He was one of the first people to call me after I got out of surgery,” he said. “He wanted to hear my voice because he didn’t believe that I was OK — he called me his ‘battle buddy. ”Eaton, who is recuperating at home, said Bowen was a cook and had managed several restaurants in the Cleveland area. He said the two became close friends. “He was a big man with a big heart,” Eaton said. “He was very intimidating in size, but very soft-spoken and very kind.”
Bowen had a wife, Melanie, three children and two stepchildren.
“A lot of people were praying for him,” said his wife, Melanie Bowen. “They all wanted him to come home, and I just wanted to thank them for praying for him.”
Though Bowen had lived in the Cleveland area with his wife and children for a few years, many of his relatives remained on the Eastern Shore, said his sister, Consuella Bowen. She remembered her brother as a fun-loving person who kept in contact with his family. “He always had a smile on his face,” Consuella said. “You could never tell when he was having a down day.”