Even if your Memorial Day is packed with a leisurely hike, a barbecue or other lazy day activities, it’s only right to take a moment to remember those who died so we could be free.
Our archives are full of touching tributes to a number of Tucsonans who were killed in uniform. Two of the most recent appear below.
Anyone brave and dedicated enough to give his or her life for our country deserves to be remembered – on Memorial Day and every day.
Roadside bomb kills Tucson High grad, by Sheryl Kornman
Tucson High School graduate Timothy Bowles, 24, was killed in Afghanistan on Sunday (March 15) after he volunteered to take the spot of a “comrade who was ill,” said his father, retired Air Force Master Sgt. Louis Bowles.
Bowles, an Air Force staff sergeant, was sent to Afghanistan in November, his father said.
It was his first tour in a war zone. He was a fire engine mechanic, the senior Bowles said.
“He volunteered to go on that mission that day to take the place of a comrade who was sick. I just learned that today (Monday),” he said.
Bowles and four other airmen were killed by a roadside bomb in Eastern Afghanistan, according to an Air Force release and an article Monday in The New York Times. The names and hometowns of the other victims were not immediately available.
Bowles was assigned to the 755th Air Expeditionary Group’s Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team in Jalalabad, his father said. His home base was Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage, Alaska.
Louis Bowles said his son was sent to Afghanistan at the same time his sister’s husband was sent to Iraq.
The senior Bowles said his son worked at the Tucson Medical Center cafeteria while taking classes at Pima Community College for a year after his 2002 graduation from Tucson High.
“He never said what he was studying.”
When Timothy enlisted in the Air Force, Bowles said he was “stunned” but “I was all for it.”
He said Louis confided in his mother, Lisa, that he was unhappy at times growing up, as his father left for one deployment after another.
He didn’t understand his father’s military career was what took him away from home.
“He didn’t comprehend why I had to leave. He thought, ‘Dad was mad at us,’ ” he said.
The elder Bowles served in the first Gulf War in 1990 and 1991, he said.
In addition to his parents, who now live in Glorietta, N.M., he is survived by his older sister, Heather Ketchmark, who lives at Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia.
Timothy Bowles would have completed six years in the Air Force on May 13, his father said.
Originally published in the Tucson Citizen March 17, 2009
Tucson GI killed in Afghanistan, by David L. Teibel
Master Sgt. David L. Hurt was raised in Tucson and killed Friday (Feb. 20) in Afghanistan.
Joshua Martin said he expects some 400 to 500 people to attend.
“He’s a local hero,” said Joshua Martin, a friend of Hurt and an Army veteran.
“It’s a sad thing, not just that he was a friend, but he was one of our servicemen, one of our heroes . . . it’s a tragedy,” Alexander McKenna said.
McKenna also was a boyhood friend of Hurt’s and is an ex-Marine.
“It saddens me. It deeply saddens me,” McKenna said.
But, Hurt, an Army veteran of 17 years’ service, knew, “you may die for what you believe in.”
Hurt was a Santa Rita High school graduate, who “loved being a soldier” and “was proud of his country,” said his mother, Bonnie Hurt.
The Department of Defense said Sunday that Hurt, 36, and a soldier from Illinois died from wounds caused by an improvised explosive device.
They were in a military vehicle Friday near Khordi in Oruzgan province when they were attacked.
Small-arms fire followed during the attack by enemy forces.
Bonnie Hurt said she talked to her son Wednesday, two days before his death.
A medic in her son’s unit had been killed the week before and Hurt and other soldiers in the unit were having a difficult time dealing with his death, Bonnie Hurt said.
“He was telling me they were taking the death of the medic hard and he was trying to keep his men occupied,” she said.
Her son always signed off telling his mother he loved her, and Wednesday was no exception.
“He said, ‘I’ve got to go, I love you,’ ” she recalled.
Hurt and the other soldier killed with him, Staff Sgt. Jeremy E. Bessa, 26, were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group in Fort Bragg, N.C.
Bessa died at the scene while Hurt died from his wounds after being evacuated to Kandahar Airfield for treatment, according to the Army.
Hurt, a native of Oak Park, Ill., moved to Tucson with his family at age 3, his 65-year-old mother said.
He enlisted in Tucson in November 1992, according to the Army.
Before that, his mother said, he had graduated from Santa Rita High, where he played football.
“He went in (to the Army) on Veterans Day,” she said.
She said he was proud to be in the elite Special Forces.
Hurt loved Tucson and “talked about it all the time,” his mother said.
After basic and advanced training, he was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., and later to the 20th Engineer Brigade.
He earned his Green Beret in May 2000 and was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne).
Hurt lived in Grays Creek, N.C., before he left for Afghanistan in January on his fifth deployment.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Commendation Medal, Master Parachutist Badge, Pathfinder Badge, the Valorous Unit Award and the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, according to his Army biography.
He is survived by his wife, Kelly, daughter, Avery, and son, Wyatt, all of Grays Creek, N.C.; his mother, Bonnie Hurt and sister Deborah Hurt, both of Hope Mills, N.C.; and his father, Joe Hurt of Memphis, Tenn.
Originally published in the Tucson Citizen Feb. 24, 2009
To read about other Tucson-area military personnel killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, go to tucsoncitizen.com/fallen
To read other stories about local casualties or about the impact of the war here, go to tucsoncitizen.com/warathome
Do you know someone who should be remembered on Memorial Day for their service to our country?