Elam named secretary of KYOVA committee

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 16, 2003

PEDRO- For three years, Joe Bowman has taught math and English at Rock Hill Middle School and Rock Hill High School.

But Friday, Bowman said goodbye to his students and colleagues. It will be a while before he sees them again.

Yet even in his absence, Bowman will be teaching his students a lesson - a lesson about patriotism, honor and service to one's country.

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Educator Joe Bowman is also Staff Sgt. Joe Bowman with the Ohio Army National Guard's 216th

Battalion. His unit is being deployed, and he will enter active duty Dec. 18. After training at Camp Atterbury in Indiana, he will depart for a 6-18-month tour of duty in Iraq.

"Ever since the turmoil in the Middle East started, I've been watching the news more, and I had the feeling there was a good chance of us going," Bowman said.

Bowman, 27, has been in the National Guard nearly eight years. He said it was not easy telling his parents that he was leaving, even though once the war started, he was careful to explain to them that there was a chance he might have to go.

His colleagues, while saddened to see him go, are unabashedly proud of him. They had a reception for him Friday, his last day on the job.

"He is an outstanding man," Rock Hill Middle School Principal Wes Hairston said. "He's a dedicated employee. We're going to miss him. But we have a very patriotic staff, very supportive of what he is doing. Joe is a microcosm of the beliefs we all share."

Bowman said he sees his upcoming tour of duty as a job that has to be done, a job he is proud to do.

"Eight years ago, when I raised my hand and swore to uphold the United States Constitution and defend my country, I knew then there could be a time when I would be called to serve my country," Bowman said.

"I'm proud to have a chance to serve my country. There are a lot of people like me. You just go do the job and then come back home."