Korean War Veteran, 82, Granted Dying Wish

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Update, March 9, 2014: I just received word from his daughter, pictured below, that Gerald Bowman Passed away peacefully this past Saturday night, March 8th. In his honor I am republishing this story.

God looked around His garden, And found an empty place. He then looked down upon the earth, And saw your tired face. He put His arms around you, And lifted you to rest. God’s garden must be beautiful, He always takes the best. He knew that you were suffering, He knew that you were in pain. He knew that you would never, Get well on earth again. He saw the road was getting rough, And the hills were hard to climb. So He closed your weary eyelids, And whispered “Peace be thine. It broke our hearts to lose you, But you didn’t go alone. For part of us went with you, The day God called you home.

Originally published: March 7, 2013

Korean War veteran Gerald Bowman gamely walked up the gangplank to board the ship he had not seen in almost six decades. The 82-year-old is suffering from congestive heart failure with only about a year to live and his dying wish was to walk the decks of the USS Laffey on which he served four years, including three tours off Korea. Wearing a USS Laffey hat, he led reporters through the ship at the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum on Charleston Harbor Friday,  stopping by his old bunk and then into the engine room where as a machinist mate he worked, sometimes in sweltering temperatures of more than 120 degrees.

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 Gerald Bowman boards the USS Laffey for the  first time in 60 years
Laffey
 The Laffey gained a reputation as being unsinkable after surviving major skirmishes at sea during the Korean War
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 Bowman said he accepted dangerous missions while serving on the destroyer simply because he was young and didn’t stop to think about being afraid

He choked up and paused when asked how it  felt to be back. ‘I just wanted to come back and see actually what happened to me in my early 20s,’ the Elkins, Ark., man said. ‘I think the bottom line was the four years changed me. I was a different person when I left.’ His Navy experiences included a 28-day stretch when, from off the Korean coast, the Laffey poured shells at targets onto the mainland. He described how the ship would roll from side to side when the guns were fired and how he would go out with a couple other sailors in small wooden boats to clear mines. It had to be done at night, with no lights  and no weapons except for knives. The metal from the guns might have exploded  the floating mines, he said.

Bowman
 Bowman remembered how the ship would roll from  side to side when the guns were fired, and how he would go out with a couple  other sailors in small wooden boats to clear mines
Bowman
 Bowman, who will die in a year of terminal  heart disease, said he wanted to see the place that molded him into a man

‘I asked him why he volunteered to do something so dangerous. He said it was because he was 20 years old,’ his daughter Kim Bowman Billings said. Father and daughter were watching television  coverage of the Laffey being brought back to the museum just over a year ago after undergoing  $9 million in repairs. ‘It just came on and he said that’s my ship.

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 Bowman and daughter, Kim Bowman Billings,  laugh at seeing a picture of Bowman as a young serviceman

He said how he wished he could walk her one more time and he could even show me the bunk where he slept,’ Billings  said. Bowman said he didn’t know what had become of the ship until he saw the TV coverage. The Laffey got its nickname ‘The Ship That Would not Die’ in World  War II when it was attacked in 1945 off Japan. It suffered 103 casualties when hit by four bombs and five kamikaze  planes.

Bowman
 While in his early 20s Bowman served three tours on the ship through the Korean War

The vessel and was mothballed after the war  but reactivated for Korea. Bowman’s trip was arranged after Billings contacted the Dream  Foundation, a California-based organization granting wishes for adults and their families facing life-threatening illnesses. Hardees also help arrange the trip. ‘This is my gift to him,’ Billings said. ‘I  think it’s the most wonderful thing in the world.’

THE USS LAFFEY WAS ‘THE SHIP  THAT WOULD NOT DIE’

Named for seaman Bartlett Laffey, who was awarded the medal of honor for the  fight against Confederate forces in 1864, the USS Laffey is an Allen M.  Sumner-class destroyer that launched to fight in World War II in 1944. The  unsinkable ship came under heavy attacks at both the D-Day invasion and the  battle of Okinawa, where it endured four bombs, six kamikaze attacks, and  strafing fire. The Okinawa attacks were so brutal that 32 of the crew were  killed and 71 wounded, but the Laffey survived. The Laffey’s exploits earned the  the nickname ‘The Ship That Would Not Die.’ The Laffey was launched into the  Korean War a decade later, helping to support the Naval blockade of the east  coast of Korea and participating in antisubmarine exercises. In 1986, the Laffey  was declared a National Historic Landmark, and it is now docked as a museum ship  in South Carolina’s Patriots Point along with the aircraft carrier Yorktown and  submarine Clamagore.

Attribution: Daily Mail, AP

About the Common Constitutionalist

Brent, aka The Common Constitutionalist, is a Constitutional Conservative, and advocates for first principles, founders original intent and enemy of progressives. He is former Navy, Martial Arts expert. As well as publisher of the Common Constitutionalist blog, he also is a contributing writer for Political Outcast, Godfather Politics, Minute Men News (Liberty Alliance), Freedom Outpost, the Daily Caller, Vision To America and Free Republic. He also writes an exclusive weekly column for World Net Daily (WND).

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