Fallen airman Timothy Bowles remembered

Fallen airman Timothy Bowles remembered
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 6:56 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Wednesday, March 14 was remarkable to the Bowles family not only because it marked the fourteenth year since Air Force Staff Sgt. Timothy Bowles was killed in action, but because it was the first time his mother, father, and sister made the pilgrimage to his memorial at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Timothy Bowles was born in Anchorage in 1984 and grew up on an Air Force base in Arizona where his father Louis Bowles was stationed. Bowles graduated from high school in 2002 before joining the Air Force like his father. On Nov. 1 of 2008, Bowles deployed to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Bowles’ sister, Heather, says he volunteered to take the nine-month-long deployment from another airman during Operation Enduring Freedom.

“The orders came down for a different airman. Her husband had just returned from deployment. And my brother was like, ‘No, that’s not right. You have children. You deserve to be a family. I’ll go,’” Heather Bowles said.

According to the military, Bowles volunteered to go on a patrol mission in place of a comrade who was sick on March 15 of 2009. Bowles, who was 24 years old at the time, was killed when his patrol vehicle was destroyed by an improvised explosive device near a local school.

Military officials described Bowles as a great wingman, who embodied what it meant to be an airman. Lifelong friend Keith Sheltra — a shop foreman with the 673d Logistics Readiness Squadron — says he watched Bowles grow up, and reconnected with Bowles when he joined the service.

“Tim was smart, polite and well-behaved and always willing to give a helping hand,” Sheltra remembered. “Even at a young age.”

Every year on the anniversary of Bowles’ death, loved ones and members of the squadron gather to remember his sacrifice and the legacy he left behind.

“As we remember Tim’s life, we consider the words of his father — that Tim was always unselfish,” Capt. Shawn Taylor said. “And for each of us, may Tim’s example inspire us in our service to our families and to our fellow airmen and to our nation, challenge us today to live and serve like Tim, always unselfish.”

Members of the Illinois Army National Guard were also killed in the same mission that took the Bowles’ life — Sgt. Christopher Abeyta, Spc. Robert Weinger and Spc. Norman Cain III, who were all serving in Afghanistan as well.