Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Jeremy Adam Bowen, November 3rd, 2010

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:09 - Introduction / childhood and high school

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Partial Transcript: Uh, could you do me a favor and just say and spell your name, just so I have it on camera?

Segment Synopsis: Bowen gives some introductory information about himself. He talks about his upbringing and his interests as both a child and a high school student.

Keywords: 12 gauge; Boyd County High School; Huntington (W. Va.); Lexington (Ky.); Vietnam War; alcohol and substance abuse; childhood; church; combat engineers; divorce; fathers; grades; graduate students; grandfathers; guns; influence; outdoors; religion; social work; track; war films; weapons

Subjects: Iraq War, 2003-2011.; Kentucky.; Veterans--Kentucky--Interviews.

GPS:

Map Coordinates: 38.41925, -82.44515
00:03:57 - Decision to join the military / family reactions / choosing the army

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Partial Transcript: Uh, so what led to your decision to join the military?

Segment Synopsis: Bowen discusses his decision to join the military while he was in high school and describes his parents' reactions. He also tells how he ended up joining the army, rather than the air force, as he had originally planned.

Keywords: 19th Special Forces Group; Desert Storm; GPA; airborne rangers; contracts; delayed entry program; determination; grade point average; high school; military; parachute infantry; parents; stepparents; war

Subjects: Military service, Voluntary.; September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001.; United States. Air Force.; United States. Army.

00:07:16 - Basic training in Fort Benning, Georgia / military occupation specialty

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Partial Transcript: Uh, all right, so, let's talk about boot camp a little bit.

Segment Synopsis: Bowen talks about his experiences in basic training. He also discusses his military occupation specialty and some of the training he did for it.

Keywords: Eleven Bravo; Fort Benning (Ga.); MOS; air fields; battle drills; boot camp; church; drill sergeants; gear; infantry; letters; marching; military occupation specialty; missions; parachute drops; physical fitness tests; reception battalions; training; uniforms; urban warfare; writing

Subjects: Basic training (Military education).United States. Army.

GPS:

Map Coordinates: 32.35237, -84.96882
00:12:37 - Airborne school

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Partial Transcript: Okay, very good. Uh, so you graduate basic training...

Segment Synopsis: Bowen talks about his time in airborne school and the fear associated with parachuting.

Keywords: Fort Benning (Ga.); airborne reception; airborne school; fear; helicopters; jumping; officers; open orders; parachuting; ranger battalions

Subjects: United States. Army--Women.; United States. Army.

GPS:

Map Coordinates: 32.35237, -84.96882
00:14:53 - A reception battalion / rumors of an invasion of Iraq

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Partial Transcript: Okay, all right, good. So, uh, graduate Airborne School.

Segment Synopsis: Bowen discusses the time after airborne school that he spent in a reception battalion, waiting to find out where he would be assigned. He also discusses the rumors of invading Iraq that he heard at that time.

Keywords: 82nd Airborne Division (United States); Fort Bragg (N.C.); XVIII Airborne Corps (United States); airborne school; family; orders; reception battalions; rumors; uncertainty; units; wars

Subjects: Iraq War, 2003-2011.; Iraq.

GPS:

Map Coordinates: 35.13917, -78.99917
00:17:59 - Joining up with the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment / training for deployment to Iraq

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Partial Transcript: Okay. So, so but--getting, uh, assigned to a specific unit and, uh...

Segment Synopsis: Bowen talks about joining up with his unit and the training that they did to prepare for deployment. He also discusses some of the already experienced people in the unit.

Keywords: 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment; World War II; anxiety; deployment; first sergeants; history; recruiting; role models; sergeant majors; training; urban combat training; veterans; war

Subjects: Iraq.

00:23:32 - Learning about the first deployment / saying goodbye to family

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Partial Transcript: But what--what was your impression, reaction, whenever, you guys got the official word...

Segment Synopsis: Bowen shares how he learned that his unit would be deployed. He also talks about the time that he spent with his family before he went to Iraq.

Keywords: Pope Air Force Base (N.C.); Raleigh (N.C.); barracks; birthdays; deployment; enlisted; entertainment; family; fear; gifts; heroism; missions; parents; platoon sergeants; video games; war

Subjects: Iraq.

GPS:

Map Coordinates: 35.77210, -78.63861
00:28:41 - Traveling to Iraq

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Partial Transcript: So, that's it. It was goodbye to America for--

Segment Synopsis: Bowen discusses how he got to Iraq from the United States. He gives his impressions of the areas he stopped at and describes the "tent city" he was stationed at until receiving his next orders.

Keywords: "tent city"; Baghdad International Airport; Bangor (Maine); Lockheed C-5 Galaxy; Platoon (movie); Spain; army bands; dust; heat; heat waves; helmets; orders; palm trees; protective vests; traveling

Subjects: Baghdad (Iraq)

GPS:

Map Coordinates: 33.32500, 44.42200
00:32:45 - Being stationed in Fallujah / early knowledge of Iraq

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Partial Transcript: So where did you wind up?

Segment Synopsis: Bowen describes his learning that he would be stationed in Fallujah, Iraq. He also talks about the knowledge that he had of the area early on and the lack of cultural training that he received.

Keywords: "Sunni triangle"; First Gulf War; cultural training; geography; team leaders

Subjects: Baghdad (Iraq).; Fallujah (Iraq).Insurgency.

GPS:

Map Coordinates: 33.35000, 43.78333
00:35:59 - Steve Napier / injuries

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Partial Transcript: Um, kind of backtrack just for a second, but do you have any...

Segment Synopsis: Bowen discusses the few injuries and casualties of the people he knew early on in the war. He talks especially about Steve Napier, who was injured several times and had a rocket-propelled grenade fired at him.

Keywords: 325; 505; RPG; Steve Napier; casualties; friends; injuries; parachute regiments; rocket-propelled grenades

Subjects: Afghanistan.; Baghdad (Iraq).; Iraq.; Kentucky.

GPS:

Map Coordinates: 33.32500, 44.42200
00:37:32 - First mission in Iraq

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Partial Transcript: So, all right, let's talk about, uh, your first mission...

Segment Synopsis: Bowen describes his first mission in Iraq in great detail. He talks about its objective and his attitude during the mission.

Keywords: Black Hawk Down (Movie); Boeing CH-47 Chinook; Fox News; Iraqis; Mike Tobin; Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk; air assaults; arrests; culture shock; explosives; headquarters platoons; helicopters; houses; line platoons; mats; missions; silence; trench lines; wrong directions

Subjects: Baghdad (Iraq).; Hizb al-Ba'th al-'Arabi al-Ishtiraki (Iraq).; Hussein, Saddam, 1937-2006.

GPS:

Map Coordinates: 33.32500, 44.42200
00:44:51 - Living accommodations in Fallujah

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Partial Transcript: All right. So, we're going out to Fallujah, right?

Segment Synopsis: Bowen describes the living conditions in Fallujah and how they improved in the months that he was there.

Keywords: "Dreamland"; MP; Pinocchio (movie); Uday Hussein; air conditioners; amusement parks; battalions; bungalows; care packages; compounds; fire teams; luxuries; military police; mortars; resorts; rockets; tents; video games

Subjects: Fallujah (Iraq).; Hizb al-Ba'th al-'Arabi al-Ishtiraki (Iraq); Hussein, Saddam, 1937-2006.

GPS:

Map Coordinates: 43.78333, 33.35000
00:49:15 - First contact with the enemy

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Partial Transcript: All right. So, well, let's, uh, let's go back to some of the missions there.

Segment Synopsis: Bowen describes the first combat situation that he was involved in. He talks about what was expected of him and tells how he killed one of the attackers.

Keywords: "Little Detroit"; AK-47; ROE; Shannon Still (??); armored vehicles; car dealerships; combat; enemies; facial expressions; grenade launchers; grenadiers; lasers; machine gunners; missions; nervousness; night vision; ranger battalions; rooftops; rules of engagement; shooting; special forces; strikers; team leaders; units

Subjects: Fallujah (Iraq).; Grenades.; United States. Army.

GPS:

Map Coordinates: 33.35000, 43.78333
00:59:14 - Mental and physical reactions to killing

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Partial Transcript: At that point, I pulled back and--I didn't even--you coulda...

Segment Synopsis: Bowen talks about the physical and psychological reactions that he had to shooting a man who was attacking them. He shares why it is difficult to talk about these things with non-veterans.

Keywords: boys; civilians; experiences; fire teams; forgetfulness; injuries; killing; magazines; nervousness; psychological reactions; sickness; veterans; wives

01:05:26 - Thoughts on the first deployment / media perception / Iraqi locals

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Partial Transcript: Okay. What--what, uh, was your overall opinion on you--your first tour there, in Fallujah?

Segment Synopsis: Bowen reflects overall on his first deployment. He talks about the sometimes questionable ways that the American media reported the conflict. He also discusses the Iraqi people and their view of the Americans.

Keywords: 82nd Airborne Division (United States); Iraqis; Vietnam War; air support; bad publicity; children; deployment; frustration; killing; making a difference; media; media distortion; violence

Subjects: Fallujah (Iraq).; Insurgency.

GPS:

Map Coordinates: 33.35000, 43.78333
01:10:26 - Coming back to the United States / learning about the second deployment

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Partial Transcript: Uh, so, you come. How--how do you feel you were different...

Segment Synopsis: Bowen discusses coming back from his first deployment and how or if his personality had changed during his time overseas. He also tells how he learned that his unit would be deployed to Afghanistan and why he was surprised by this.

Keywords: "becoming a man"; Americans; George W. Bush; Pepsi; United States; battalion commanders; contracts; deployments; driving; elections; food; gratefulness; homecoming; joint training; personalities; presidents; sisters; training; urban training; values

Subjects: Afghanistan.; Fallujah (Iraq).United States. Army.; Improvised explosive devices.

GPS:

Map Coordinates: 33.35000, 43.78333
01:16:32 - Deployment to Afghanistan

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Partial Transcript: So, you did leave on that Saturday?

Segment Synopsis: Bowen tells how his unit was deployed to Afghanistan to help with the elections for several months. He talks about the deployment and his surprise that it was only a few months long.

Keywords: Bagram Airfield (Afghanistan); FOB; IEDs; Kyrgyzstan; Pakistan; Walmart; Zurmat (Afghanistan); combat; culture shock; elections; forward operating base; geography; outposts; poverty; team leaders

Subjects: Afghanistan.; Improvised explosive devices.; Iraq.; Qaida (Organization).; Taliban.

GPS:

Map Coordinates: 33.43589, 69.03145
01:21:27 - Equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan

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Partial Transcript: Um, equipment-wise, did you feel like your--your supplies were adequate on--either on both tours.

Segment Synopsis: Bowen talks about the equipment that the army had in Iraq and compares it to what they had during his second deployment in Afghanistan. He talks about vehicle safety and stresses the lack of vehicle protection during his first tour.

Keywords: Armox; armor; bulletproof vests; equipment; explosions; helmets; humvees; sandbags; supplies

Subjects: Afghanistan.; Iraq.; United States. Army.

01:23:31 - Attending Morehead State University / changing majors / lack of respect for veterans

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Partial Transcript: Okay, good. So, I--you come home from Afghanistan...

Segment Synopsis: Bowen talks about his decision to attend Morehead State and gives his reasons for changing majors early on. He also talks about how his classmates had a lack of respect for him as a veteran.

Keywords: George W. Bush; JROTC; Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps; North Carolina; ROTC; Reserve Officers' Training Corps; acceptance letters; applications; biology; casualties; classmates; college; contracts; experience; friends; friendships; grades; liberals; life experience; mountains; nervousness; psychology; relationships; respect; students; transitions; veterans; war; wives

Subjects: Kentucky.; Morehead State University.; United States. Army.; University of Kentucky.; Veterans--Education (Higher)--Kentucky.

GPS:

Map Coordinates: 38.18786, -83.43345
01:30:06 - Experiences in the military / student life

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Partial Transcript: All right, well, uh, looking back on your experiences now, what--what do you remember most?

Segment Synopsis: Bowen gives his overall impressions of the military. He talks about his current standing within the military and how being a veteran has influenced him as a student.

Keywords: Olive Hill (Ky.); ROTC; Reserve Officers' Training Corps; VA; Veterans' Affairs; assistant platoon leaders; authority; drinking; friends; friendships; graduate school; maturity; military; officers; officers in training; partying; rank; structure; students; veterans

Subjects: Education.; Veterans--Education (Higher)--Kentucky.

GPS:

Map Coordinates: 38.18786, -83.43345
01:34:32 - Advice for prospective military recruits / coping with death and killing

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Partial Transcript: Um, anything else you want to say about being a veteran.

Segment Synopsis: Bowen gives some advice for people who are considering joining the military and talks about the respect that he has for other veterans. He shares how he has been able to cope with the fact that he has killed people in combat. He also discusses the injuries that his friends have received. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Christianity; Christians; Rambo (movie); World War II, Vietnam War; college; combat; coping; death; friends; injuries; killing; masculinity; military; platoons; respect; social work; soldiers; veterans; war

Subjects: Military service, Voluntary.