By Mrs. Michelle Kennedy (IMCOM)March 24, 2011
FORT DRUM, NY -- Son Mi Bowen thought Jan. 15 was just another freezing day in the North Country. It was a particularly snowy day, causing her to make three trips outside to shovel her driveway and sidewalk. All seemed normal except a vaguely familiar pain in her leg.
"When I woke up (the next morning), I knew what it was and I knew it was serious," Bowen said.
Four years earlier, Bowen had a severe leg infection.
She immediately called her friend and fellow family readiness group member, Carrie Donahue, to tell her she was sick and needed to go to the hospital.
Bowen and Donahue have known each other since their husbands served together in the same unit at Fort Stewart, Ga. The unit moved to Fort Drum to become 1st Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade. Now deployed to Afghanistan, they serve with 2nd Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, Task Force Knighthawk.
Donahue knew her friend was in trouble.
"Her leg was red, hot and swollen," she said.
Donahue took Bowen to the hospital, where she was admitted. She cared for Bowen's two daughters until their grandparents, David and Irene Bowen from Dunedin, Fla., arrived at Syracuse's Hancock International Airport the next day.
After the A Company FRG was informed, members quickly started arranging to have home-cooked meals prepared for the Bowen Family. Meals were delivered every evening, allowing the Bowens to care for their granddaughters, Irene, 11, and Amara, 8.
The Bowens, who stayed for two weeks while their daughter-in-law recovered, said they had not heard of an FRG before, but knew the Army focused a lot on Families. David Bowen also said having the FRG's support gave their son, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Barry Bowen, "peace of mind."
"We've been to (a lot) of different (posts), and they've always impressed us with the military Family atmosphere," he said. "The FRG's actions were very impressive. It would've been much more difficult for us and our son in Afghanistan (without the FRG's support). They were great. They were always asking 'what can we do' and 'how can we help.'"
Son Mi Bowen said she hasn't felt so much camaraderie and closeness since her FRG in Germany 13 years ago. She encourages other spouses moving to a new unit to get involved and go out and meet other spouses.
"We have a pretty strong FRG," Donahue said. "We have some great women in our FRG. We get together on a regular basis, aside from the FRG events ... and we're committed to trying to do things for each other."
Bowen agreed, saying the spouses in the FRG were "lifesavers."
"I made the effort to meet some ladies because I knew (Barry) was deploying and I'm glad I did. They were lifesavers," she said. "I'm not a very social person, but I made the effort because I knew he was deploying. I feel like everything happens for a reason. I knew I was going to need them."
Even Bowen's neighbors assisted during her illness by plowing and shoveling the driveway.
"I'm so moved and touched by everyone's generosity. It's amazing," she said. "I'm overwhelmed and so were my in-laws. They were taken aback. They received firsthand what the military does for each other. They were blown away."
The Bowens were so impressed by the assistance and support they received, they wrote a letter that circulated through the 10th CAB and 10th Mountain Division (LI) leadership. They also donated money to the Wounded Warrior Project in the FRG's name.