By Jan Clark, Tripler Army Medical Center Public AffairsAugust 30, 2010
HONOLULU - If it's true that actions speak louder than words, than retired Sgt. 1st Class Dana Bowman, "roared" as he parachuted onto the grounds of Tripler Army Medical Center, here, Aug. 19, bringing with him an American flag, captain bars and commander coins.
Bowman met with Soldiers in the Warrior Transition Battalion, here, to prove that even becoming a double amputee doesn't end life, but instead, sends life on a new journey.
Bowman's new journey began in 1994, high over the desert of Yuma, Ariz., when the Army's elite skydiving demonstration team, the Golden Knights, was practicing heart-stopping aerial maneuvers that they've become famous for.
Bowman, a special operations forces Ranger, scuba diver and sniper, along with friend and fellow teammate Sgt. Jose Aguillon, was going to perform "Diamond Track," a maneuver the two had performed more than 50 times before. However, during this Feb. 6 demonstration, Bowman's life changed forever.
Instead of crossing paths during the maneuver, Bowman and Aguillon collided at lightning speeds. Aguillon was killed on impact, and both of Bowman's legs were instantly amputated, one above the knee and the other below the knee.
Despite his injuries, nine months after the tragedy, Bowman re-enlisted in the Army and insisted on skydiving into the ceremony, along with his commander.
"The way I look at it, is that we all have a disability," Bowman said. "Your disabilities are those things that you think you can't do."
His jump into TAMC promoted Soldier abilities and served as a morale booster for the warriors in transition. It was only fitting, said Maj. Percival Wolf, executive officer, WTB, that he introduce Bowman to warriors in attendance.
"The WTB exists to assist our warriors - you - in transitioning back to duty, whether that is the National Guard, Reserve, active duty or into civilian life," Wolf said. "Our only goal is to provide for you the care and support you need to achieve your goals - to start you back onto the path you choose. Bowman is an example of what can be accomplished."
During his visit, here, Bowman assisted Brig. Gen. Keith Gallagher, commanding general, Pacific Regional Medical Command, in the promotion of 1st Lt. Regina Cantyne to captain, and he presented commander coins to 10 staff members chosen for their exceptional performance.
"On behalf of the U.S military men and women of all services, the coin I present to you is for all of you," Bowman said. "It depicts a spade, which stands for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. On the opposite side are three shields: the Port Authority, the Police Department and the Fire Department.
"This coin and the American flag are for the men and women who have sacrificed for our country," he said, after his jump into TAMC grounds.
Since retiring from the Army, Bowman has received a bachelor's degree in commercial aviation from the University of North Dakota, and he has become a noted, international motivational speaker, working with military and non-governmental agencies to promote the idea that "it's not about the disability; it's about the ability."