|From The Times shreveporttimes.com
A community mourns
Adam Kealoha Causey
By Adam Kealoha Causey
SHARON COMMUNITY — Brandon Brown remembers sliding on his belly down the waxed hallway floors of Summerfield High School with his friend the Jon Eric Bowman.
"We were the school goofs," said Brown, 22, who was a groomsman in Bowman's wedding.
And it is good times and Bowman's sometimes wacky sense of humor Brown and others are trying to focus on in the days after the Marine Corps lance corporal's death.
The member of Charlie Company, in the 1/6 Marines out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., was laid to rest Wednesday in Sharon Cemetery near Lisbon in Claiborne Parish, only miles from the Lincoln and Union parish lines.
Bowman, who graduated with nine others in 2004 from Summerfield, was killed in combat Oct. 9 in Iraq's Al Anbar province. Family members have said he died after an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee.
Pastors, friends, family members and fellow servicemen totalling more than 300 told stories in a group setting and one-on-one at Bowman's funeral at Cook Baptist Church in Ruston and at the burial. They call him Jon Eric, and they will remember him as an outdoorsman who worked hard and loved his family and country.
"He wasn't much of a fisher, but he tried," Brown said with a laugh. The two spent countless hours boating and skiing on Lake Claiborne when they were in school or at baseball practice.
They also helped found a "deep mud riding" four-wheeler group among their friends called Mudweisers, Brown said. The group's name was intended to resemble a certain worldwide beer-brewing company, which was one of the many adult-leaning jokes among Bowman and his friends.
"We were so much alike. But we probably can't put many of our stories in the newspaper."
But funny stories and hundreds of supporters are not yet enough to stop family members' tears. Multiple rifle volleys at graveside services and the awarding of the Purple Heart were grim reminders of sacrifice.
"Not only did I loose my son, I lost my best friend," the marine's father Johnny W. Bowman said in a cracking voice as he clutched the American flag the Corps had just given him. "He was my hero, too."
Cyndi Beach, who works with the elder Bowman's wife, Susan, at Rexel electrical distribution in West Monroe, said she will never forget receiving a phone call about the death of her friend's stepson.
"She called me right after the marines left about 12:30 at night, He will be dearly missed. He was always trying to find the good in everybody."
Almost every seat in the Cook Baptist sanctuary was full 30 minutes before the 2 p.m. funeral, which left some attendees to stand. More than 50 floral arrangements — some with red and white carnations and blue ribbons, others with yellow roses — covered the pulpit.
The service's music included interpretation of Gospel songs such as "Meet Me There" and recorded versions of "There You'll Be," the theme from the 2001 World War II movie "Pear Harbor" by Faith Hill, and Toby Keith's "American Soldier."
"I want to remind everyone that the sacrifice of death is known by God," Homer Church of Christ pastor Ray Anderson said during the funeral. After the burial he called Bowman an "all-around good kid."
Anderson also officiated at Dawn and Jon Eric Bowman's February 2005 wedding. "I enjoyed that a whole lot better," he said through tears.
A DVD played on a screen hanging in front of the baptistry showed still photos from throughout the marine's life: Halloween costumes, baseball jerseys, tuxedos and fatigues.
The Rev. Mike Smith, pastor of Pine Grove Baptist in Bernice, recalled in his eulogy that he used to enjoy seeing Bowman work at a Bernice building supply store.
"If I was picking up a sack of deer corn and putting it on my shoulder, he was picking up two. He was just that kind of guy."
Smith said his own son is on his third tour of duty with the Marines in Iraq. He fears for his son's safety, but pointed to the Bible's praise of the true friendship Bowman must have demonstrated for his "band of brothers."
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends," he said, quoting the King James Version of John 15:13.
"You're not there for the liberation of Iraq. You're not there for patriotism, even though you're full of it. You're there for your brother."
Bowman is the second northwest Louisiana Marine to die in combat in Iraq this month. Lance Cpl. John Edward Hale, 20, of Shreveport died Oct. 6 in Al Anbar province. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, out of Camp Lejeune.
Access this story online for more photos from Lance Cpl. Jon Eric Bowman's funeral.