Frame John Bowers
West Point, 1969
Be Thou At Peace
Posted by Jim Reams on February 7, 2011:
Frame John Bowers died from complications related to ALS. He was one week shy of his 64 birthday. In life he set an example for all of us. His enthusiasm and curiosity knew no bounds. It is a cruel irony that someone with his energy would be struck down by this particular disease. He lived by the motto Duty, Honor, Country. He loved his family, the Army and West Point. I was privileged to know him for all four years at West Point in Company F-3 both as a company mate and roommate. John and I and our families remained close for the 40 plus years since graduation.
The son of an Army officer, he was originally admitted with the Class of 68 but turned back medically in Beast. Their loss was our gain. He graduated 7th in the class. He was smart but unassuming and always ready to help those of us who were academically challenged. He was never without an opinion...and a solution. As a cadet he participated fully in all that West Point had to offer, in the classroom and out. He visibly and invisibly enriched our Cadet experience. He was a mule rider. He "banged the bells" at the Cadet Chapel. After an Army football win, or more rarely, a loss, many of us can recall marching to the mess hall in the cold evening twilight as the sounds of "On Brave Old Army Team" coming from the Cadet Chapel bell tower made us proud (or comforted us). Many times that was literally John's handiwork. He played Goat Engineer football and even as a senior participated in all the muckoid intramural sports that most of us sought to avoid. He led by example. He was a straight arrow and a gray hog but always fair. He was the first in the class to branch Armor and if the branch still had horses in 1969 he would have mounted up. Rather, he became an Army aviator and flew slicks in Viet Nam. He was shot down and flew the next day. He earned a masters in aeronautical engineering from Princeton. In all his endeavors he chose the harder right. He was an officer of great integrity and the highest standards.
After leaving active duty, he remained in the reserves because he loved the Army, not because he had to. He finished CGSC and the War College. John knew everyone. On his annual two weeks of active duty supporting aviation branch in the Pentagon, he renewed friendships with fellow West Pointers of all classes serving in the DC area and other officers and NCO's he knew from active duty. He eventually retired from the reserves. As civilian he earned an MBA had a very successful career as an engineer at GE.
John's ALS was diagnosed about 3 years ago. He wanted to attend our 40th but his physical condition made that impossible. He really was with us in spirit. He was public about his diagnosis and realistic in dealing with the unfair hand he had been dealt. He was not morose and did not solicit pity. On the contrary, he actively sought to help others by sharing his experience dealing with the VA as the disease inexorably took its toll. His spirit and positive attitude never failed him and, even as he lost his mobility and ability to speak, he continued to participate in the class forum. Those who who knew him well noticed toward the end, as his body failed, that his forum contributions became shorter and fewer. That he still participated at all was a tribute to his tenacity and courage. John is now in heaven, freed from the prison of ALS. He is now able to lead the angels on reveille runs and is likely helping Saint Peter to buck the place up. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Judy and his children, grandchildren, father, brother and sister. John has been released from the surly bonds of earth and now can touch the face of God. Let us remember how this fine man touched all our lives and be grateful that we knew him.
Jim Reams F-3
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