NBS Outdoor Fall Issue 2020

Guns for Good By Carolee Anita Boyles Halo for Freedom Warrior Foundation

Retired Sargent First Class Dana Bowman is an expert at turning tragedy into triumph. After losing both legs in a midair accident in 1994, he became the first double amputee to re-enlist in the U.S. Army. After a stellar career there, he returned to school, earned a degree, and started the HALO for Freedom Warrior Foundation, a 501(c)(3) serving military veterans. Bowman joined the Army in 1981 as an engineer and heavy equipment operator. He earned his Airborne wings and became a member of the 618th Engineers in the 82nd Airborne. “I was a bulldozer, backhoe, and grader operator,” he said. “Our mission was to build runways. If there was combat going on, we would be the ones to airdrop equipment out of planes. Then we'd construct a runway so U.S. forces could fly in and land.” During his second stint in the Army, Bowman had the option of going to Alaska, Hawaii, or the Panamanian jungle. “I thought ‘Anybody can go to Hawaii or Alaska, but how

many people get to go to South America and be stationed in the jungle?’” The promise of adventure appealed to him, so that’s where he went. Still 82nd Airborne, Bowman met some Green Berets. One of them told him he was special forces material. The more he learned what being special forces entailed, the more interested he became. Eventually he became a Green Beret himself. “Believe it or not, they sent me back to Panama because I speak Spanish,” Bowman said. “So, I went back to the same unit I had been in, now as a Green Beret.” At that point in his career, Bowman needed some command time. “I needed time behind the lines running a unit,” he explained. The Army gave him his options: become a recruiter, spend 2 years with the Golden Knights (an elite parachute team), be an instructor at the shoot house or scuba school for 2 years, or go to an ROTC unit. Bowman loved skydiving, so

U.S. Army SFC Dana Bowman (Ret)

off he went to train with the Golden Knights.

“They do parachute operations all over and serve as goodwill ambassadors like the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels,” he said. “That was a rigorous training. I ended up being a demonstrator and I was getting in the position where I wanted to be, leading the Black or Gold Team.” February 6, 1994 changed everything. During a training session, Bowman collided with his partner in midair. His partner was killed instantly, and Bowman lost both legs, one severed below the knee and one above. “I didn't want to get out of the military,” he said. “I was just in

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Fall 2020

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