By Mr. Scott T Sturkol (IMCOM)March 4, 2019
Life often presents unique situations and one such occurrence took place at the start of training for Fort McCoy's Cold-Weather Operations Course (CWOC) Class 19-05 in late February. Two Soldiers who are the same age with the same rank, and same first and last name found themselves pairing up for training in the course.
Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin B. Bowman with the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne, a 13 1/2-year Army veteran, and 10-year Army veteran Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin C. Bowman with the 75th Ranger Regiment arrived for training on the same day to La Crosse (Wis.) International Airport. One of them was picked up for the shuttle to Fort McCoy, and the other was left behind.
"The driver must have figured they already picked up a Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Bowman, so they left the airport with the shuttle," Benjamin C. said.
Both Bowmans were picked up at the airport and brought to the post for training. But, the next day, it meant some clarification needed to be made by CWOC staff members.
"They asked us both to provide identification of who we were, and we got it figured out," Benjamin B. said.
It was at that time the two Bowmans learned about each other. Neither had ever met the other before. Through talking, they learned they're both 32 years old and had other similarities.
"We figured out we were both born in Ohio -- two months apart -- one in Dayton and one in Columbus," Benjamin C. said. "I was raised as a military brat, and he grew up in Ohio, so it's not surprising we never saw or heard about each other."
The Bowmans haven't determined yet whether or not they are actually related. From talking, they think there's a slim possibility they are distant cousins.
"It could go back to great grandfathers in Ohio," Benjamin B. said. "It's just really unique, though, that we have all these similarities."
Until they find out more about their family heritage, which could possibly include a DNA test in the future, the two senior noncommissioned officers decided to partner up for training in the CWOC class.
Together, they're learning about skiing, snowshoeing, improvised shelter building, and many other skills that service members should know when completing military operations in cold weather.
"We found that we work very well together," Benjamin C. said.
And as members of the Army family, they both agree that cold-weather training like the CWOC is good for all Soldiers.
"Learning these kind of skills and doing this kind of training has been something we in the Army have needed to get back to," Benjamin C. said. "As Soldiers, these are important skills to have for the future."
"I agree -- this course and training are essential for the future of the Army," Benjamin B. said. "A lot more people need to take this course."
Both Bowmans agreed they will likely stay in touch from now on.
"For us to meet in a place like Fort McCoy for this kind of training is incredibly unique," Benjamin C. said. "I'm glad it happened."
"I'm glad it happened, too," Benjamin B. said.
This is the third consecutive winter training season Fort McCoy's Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security has coordinated the CWOC training.
Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin. The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services each year since 1984.
Learn more about Fort McCoy online at https://home.army.mil/mccoy, on Facebook by searching "ftmccoy," and on Twitter by searching "usagmccoy.