MOUNT VERNON — Sometimes a long line of family in the military is enough of a reason to join. Such is the case of Brad Bowers, an Army veteran who served for four years.
“I wasn’t ready for college,” he said as part of the reason why he joined. “And as far back as I can remember, all the males on both sides of my family have served in the military.”
This includes his father who served in the Navy and uncles who served in the Army and Marine Corps. His two brothers would go on to serve and have careers in the Army. His brother Rob Bowers Jr. served for 24 years and his other brother, Mike, served for 27 years.
Brad Bowers joined the army and started basic training in January 1989 in Fort Benning, Georgia. After that, he went on to Scofield Barracks in Hawaii, which is the 25th Infantry Division.
“Everybody said ‘oh you’re lucky, you’re in Hawaii.’ Yeah you’re right, but when we were out training that was when it rained the most there. So when we were out there, there was work,” he said, mentioning that their training season was from January to April.
He would then be deployed to Australia, Guam, and Iraq for Operation Desert Storm from August of 1991 to February the next year.
“I was supposed to be (in the army) for four years,” he said. “But I got out in just under four years because, prior to being sent over to Dessert Storm, we were supposed to go to the Korean DMZ for a year.”
But instead, his infantry got sent over to Iraq for Operation Desert Storm and those over in the DMZ had to stay for an extra year. Bowers started in the infantry but had a secondary military occupational specialty as a radio telephone operator.
“Some of the people you served with quickly become your best friends,” he said about his time in the service. “You know who you can trust and who you can’t.”
Bowers still keeps in touch with some of the people he served with. One of his roommates moved down to Mount Vernon from Massachusetts about 18 years ago. Another friend lives up in Youngstown who he talks to regularly. Social media allows him to keep in touch with those who aren’t as close.
Bowers works with the local color guard to perform services for Memorial Day and funerals for other veterans.
“It’s something very near and dear to me,” he said as to why he does it. “Every time I hear the National Anthem, my heart kinda flutters if you will. It has a whole different meaning to somebody that served.”
He said that his favorite event to serve in would be the events for Veteran’s Day for local ceremonies. With that, he has served as two-time post commander of the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars in Mount Vernon. He has participated in ceremonies at the different elementary schools here in town.
“I would encourage every male to serve,” he said. “For one, you grow up in a hurry. I’m sure I matured much faster than what an 18-year-old kid going to college would have… Knowing what I know now, I would encourage the youth of today to look more at the Air Force or Navy just from the standpoint that those two branches can better prepare them for the outside world. Now that being said, I wouldn’t trade my four years for nothing.
“I still cherish the friendships I made through my time in service,” he said. Bowers is raising his family in Mount Vernon and works as a senior account executive for an insurance company.