|From the Denver Post denverpost.com
La Junta medic on fourth combat tour in Afghanistan dies flying in to rescue fellow soldiers
By Kirk Mitchell
The Denver Post
POSTED: 10/16/2011 01:00:00 AM MDT
Staff Sgt. Robert B. Cowdrey often rushed to battle hot spots to rescue injured soldiers, sometimes even Taliban rebels.
The 39-year-old flight medic was flying into a combat area in the Kunar province of Afghanistan on Thursday when he was killed, said his father-in-law, Jay Bollacker of La Junta.
"They were rescuing people and they were under fire," Bollacker said. "They were on a helicopter."
Though Cowdrey, who went by Brian, loved being a soldier, he had been leery about going overseas on his fourth tour of duty two months ago, Bollacker said.
"He was not anxious to go back. But he loved the military," Bollacker said. "He felt like he was helping the war effort."
Cowdrey often arrived at a battle area in a helicopter, delivered medical assistance under fire and ran a wounded soldier back to the helicopter.
"It was a very dangerous job," Bollacker said.
The decorated sergeant was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, out of Fort Bragg, N.C. Among many medals, he earned the Bronze Star and two Army commendations for valor.
Cowdrey, who graduated from high school in La Junta, was married and had three sons. His oldest, Justin, enlisted in the army and is currently stationed in Germany. His other two boys are Nathan, 15, and Jacob, 13.
"All of those boys said they were going into the military," Bollacker said. "He was a good disciplinarian. They loved him. He was a good man."
Cowdrey was an avid outdoorsman, who often went bow hunting. He joined the Army in June 2003.
Cowdrey served in Iraq from July 2004 to July 2005, and in Afghanistan three times — from January 2007 to February 2008, from April 2009 to March 2010, and from August until his death.
During his latest deployment he communicated frequently with his wife, Bollacker said.