Monday, May 11, 2009

On January 24, 2009, three Marines from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force were struck by a roadside bomb blast during a combat mission in Afghanistan's Farah Province, a growing hotbed of Taliban activity. LCPL Julian T. Brennan (left), 25, of Brooklyn, New York was killed in the explosion. LCPL Kevin T. Preach (right), 21, of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, was severely burned and lost both legs and a hand. LCPL Preach died from his wounds on Feb. 7, 2009. To read more about these two men, you can do a google search and you will find several articles that can give you an idea of who these two men were and you will be glad you took a few minutes to get to know them. After all, they made the ultimate sacrifice for you, so spending five minutes learning a little something about them is worth your time.

The third Marine in the truck that day was CPL Kenneth Charles Bowen. Kenny was also severely injured in this IED explosion. Kenny was the squad leader riding in the passenger seat when the armored vehicle was hit by the roadside bomb. He has been recovering at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, since he was brought back to the states four months ago. Kenny is going home to Ann Arbor, Michigan for a visit this weekend. It will be the first time he has left Brooke Army Medical Center and the first time he has been home since the explosion.

If you have been reading this blog, by now you have probably noticed that everyone I’ve honored so far has a personal connection to me in some way. (Once I finish running in honor of everyone I can possibly think of, I will start honoring people that I haven't had the privilege to know, but served for me anyway.) I didn’t know of LCPL Brennan, LCPL Preach, or CPL Kenny Bowen until Saturday evening. I received an email from my good friend, Val. Her son, Chas served with my son during two deployments to Fallujah. I had just sent her our new Military Missions t-shirt. I figured she would want one since the logo features her son....he’s the Marine on the far right if you check out the back side of the shirt! Val loved her new t-shirt and wore it over to her friend, Wendy’s house. Wendy just happens to be mom to Cpl Kenny Bowen. Chas and Kenny grew up together and both ended up serving in the USMC. (By the way, Kenny even called Val to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day yesterday because the two families are just that close!) Wendy is really excited about Kenny coming home and she wanted to order a bunch of our everyone could wear one when Kenny comes home. (In case you’re wondering why these t-shirts are so appealing, it might be because the front of the shirt says “Freedom Isn’t Free” and the back is pretty awesome too!). Val sent me an email to see if she could get some shirts and told me the story behind her request.

It turns out that Kenny was in the TOW Platoon, which was in the Weapons Company of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force. It just so happens that we (Military Missions) has been sending packages to 3 different guys in 3/8 Weapons Co. since they deployed before Christmas in 2008. We were sending unit boxes to these guys because we heard they were in a pretty remote place in Afghanistan and didn’t receive much mail. Now, I have no idea if any of our mail ever reached Brennan, Preach, or Bowen, but I do know that I have been praying for 3/8 daily since I first found out they deployed. Honestly, I’ve been praying for 3/8 for years. My son was attached to 3/8 during part of his first deployment and one of my dearest friends’ son was in 3/8 for two deployments back in 2005-2006. After learning of the connection that Kenny has to Chas (the guy on the right in our logo), and the fact that 3/8 holds a special place in my heart, this situation just became personal too. I actually felt myself overcome with emotion and unable to speak for several minutes. Most anyone that lives in the extended military family can tell you the same type of stories over and over. We love everyone single one of these men and women that are willing to serve and sacrifice for us.

So, even though I didn’t make a long story short today, I did run three miles in honor of three Marines that served for me and for you. If you can find a few minutes, please read up on these heroes and their families. Keep the families of the fallen in your prayers, and keep Kenny and his family in your prayers as he goes through a lot more recovery and healing. My deepest gratitude goes out to families of LCPL Brennan, LCPL Preach, and CPL Bowen. Thank you for raising men willing to stand in the gap for all of us.

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