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Bowmar Served in Vietnam, Iraq


by Stan Maddux

Published: Friday, November 10, 2017

Ed Bowmar was a pilot during the Vietnam War in 1969, then over 20 years later stepped away from his corn and soybean fields to serve in the skies during Operation Desert Storm.

The now 73-year-old Kingsford Heights area farmer is modest about his service to the country, feeling he had it much easier than soldiers on the ground.

"I'm not going to say I wasn't part of it, but it wasn't a traumatic experience for me,'' said Bowmar.

Bowmar grew up on the same farm along C.R. 125 East that he operates today with his son, and studied animal science when he

first left home for Purdue University.

He graduated from the West Lafayette campus through ROTC, then underwent training to become a pilot for the U.S Air Force.

During his ten-month stint in Vietnam, Bowmar said he was at the controls of tanker planes used for refueling U.S fighter aircraft in mid-air and flew smaller planes that brought food, ammunition, Jeeps and other supplies to special forces down below.

Soldiers in body bags along with wounded soldiers needing transport from the jungles to the morgue and hospital were also placed onto his aircraft for shipping out.

"You name it. We hauled it,'' said Bowmar.

Bowmar said he was only shot at a few times, but the heavy artillery and other dangers faced by ground soldiers were much greater.

"The experience I think about the most is the number of dead bodies we hauled of servicemen. It wasn't a very nice thing to have to do, but somebody had to do it,'' said Bowmar.

After the war, he got back into agriculture at the family's cattle and hog farm, then, after taking over the reins, switched to raising strictly corn and soybeans along with some wheat.

He's also more than doubled the size of what then was a 500- to 700-acre spread.

Bowmar was still in the U.S Air Force reserves when called to the Middle East in the early '90s for active duty in Operation Desert Storm.

He spent more than three months carrying fuel to fighter jets thousands of feet above places like Iraq.

After returning to his farm, Bowmar continued serving part-time in the reserves until retiring after 27 years in the military.

Like many young people, Bowmar said he didn't really know what career path he wanted to take and chose to study animal science in college at the wishes of his parents.

After graduating, he began training as a pilot because it was something in the back of his mind he always wanted to explore.

Eventually, though, an itch developed to get back into farming.

He's taken more of a back seat nowadays with his son in control of the operation.

Bowmar still operates tractors and does some of the other physical work that has to be done.

Looking back, Bowmar said the Vietnam War was a "total waste of humanity'' because of how the conflict was run by U.S. government, but Operation Desert Storm "as near as I could tell was probably run as good you can run it.''

"It's been an interesting life. I have no complaints,'' he said.

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