Carroll Experiences Triumph, Tragedy In Persian Gulf War

2 News Story

January 05, 1992|By Daniel P. Clemens Jr. | Daniel P. Clemens Jr.,Staff writer

The nation went to war against Iraq in January.

While the PersianGulf war was being waged half a world away, its effects hit Carroll hard, as a Manchester serviceman lost his life in a non-combat incident.

Charles L. Bowman Jr., a 20-year-old Army specialist, was killed in southern Iraq on April 2, weeks after the war ended, when a bomblet exploded in his hand.

Bowman, who was buried in Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery in Baltimore County, was the only countian -- and one of six Marylanders -- killed in the war.

The son of Sandra and Charles L. Bowman Sr., he had joined the Army after graduating from North Carroll High and was stationed in Friedburg, Germany, as a mechanic for the Bradley fighting vehicles in the 3rd Armored Division.

By one count, there were 105 people with ties to the county serving in the gulf. The expressions of support and gratitude started when troops began leaving for the Middle East and continued long after the war's end.

Early on, U.S. flags could be seen flying in all parts of the county. At City Hall in Westminster, candle lamps in the building's 38 windows were left up after the holidays, and each was dedicated to the safe return of an individual service person.

Churches across the county served as round-the-clock sanctuaries for people wanting a quiet place where they could reflect on events of the war.

More than 1,000 people filled Watkins Park in Mount Airy to rally for troops in February. A videotape of the event was sent to service men and women in the gulf.

In county schools, students began trying tomake sense of the war by discussing the conflict and studying maps of the Middle East in history, geography and social studies classes.

Countians shared a collective sigh of relief at the war's end in February and celebrated each veteran's homecoming.

The first countian to return was 20-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Shawn R. Borgealt, a North Carroll High grad who surprised his mother, Bette Jean, at her Westminster home March 14.

The homecomings continued into the summerbefore all countians who had served in the war were back. Some were overdue.

For example, Westminster resident Brian Lee Mortimer had planned to be home on leave in early January when his wife, Marianne,21, was expected to have the couple's second child.

But the war interfered. A Navy photographer's mate third class, Mortimer left Norfolk, Va., Dec. 28, 1990 when his ship, the USS America, was called tothe gulf. He missed the birth of his daughter, Mary.

"All I got was a telegram saying your baby's been born," said the 29-year-old.

But when his carrier returned in April, Mortimer was reunited with his wife, and daughter Amanda, 16 months, and met Mary, not yet 4 months old.

Among the final returnees to Carroll were three cousins: K. Wayne Hart and Lucas Ball, both in the Navy, and Owen Ball, an Armyintelligence specialist, who had a July reunion in Sykesville.

With the war over, several communities threw celebrations of thanks forthe returning troops.

Westminster saluted the returning troops during an April support rally, which included veterans from previous wars and hundreds of participants.

In June, Mount Airy threw a "Welcome Home" rally on Flag Day, to show gratitude for the local participants. But the troops turned the tables on their hosts, taking the opportunity to thank family and friends for support and encouragement throughout the war.

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