KSP returns Purple Heart to family of WWII veteran - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

KSP returns Purple Heart to family of WWII veteran

L to R: Barb Bowling (wife of Gary Bowling), retired KSP Det. Jaskowiak, Gary Bowling, Post 6 Intelligence Analyst Mindi Thompson, Post 6 Commander Capt. Anthony Taulbee, Tpr. David Jones, Post 6 Public Affairs Office, & Bethany West. (Source: KSP Post 6) L to R: Barb Bowling (wife of Gary Bowling), retired KSP Det. Jaskowiak, Gary Bowling, Post 6 Intelligence Analyst Mindi Thompson, Post 6 Commander Capt. Anthony Taulbee, Tpr. David Jones, Post 6 Public Affairs Office, & Bethany West. (Source: KSP Post 6)
(Source: Kentucky State Police Post 6) (Source: Kentucky State Police Post 6)
DRY RIDGE, KY (KFVS) -

On May 27, the day after Memorial Day, Kentucky State Police Post 6 hosted a special ceremony to return a Purple Heart medal to the family of a World War II soldier.

They presented the medal to Grant County resident Gary Bowling, the nephew of Private First Class Herman A. Bowling, a 20-year-old Marine who was wounded on July 27, 1944 on the island of Guam during the Pacific campaign. While he was being removed from the battlefield by medical corpsmen, one of them stepped on a land mine, killing Bowling and several of the corpsmen.

“His uncle earned this medal by making the ultimate sacrifice for our country and we wanted to make sure it was returned to the family,” said Capt. Anthony Taulbee, commander of Post 6.

“You don’t know how important this is to us,” said Bowling, whose father died four years ago at age 88. “It would have meant a lot to him. He missed his brother. We thank you for all your efforts to get this back to us.”

How the post got the medal is a mystery. Det. C.J. Jaskowiak discovered it in a file cabinet shortly before his retirement in 2013. An Army veteran of the 1980s era, he knew what it represented. It is a combat decoration awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces who are wounded or killed in action against an enemy of the United States.

Jaskowiak attempted to learn more about the medal’s owner without success. The only clue was an engraved name on the back which read: PFC Herman A. Bowling, USMC. Upon his retirement, he passed the medal on to Mindi Thompson, a criminal intelligence analyst at the post, for further research.

Thompson kept the medal on her desk, a silent sentinel to an untold story. Her efforts to solve the mystery had limited success until she enlisted the help of Bethany West, a Highlands High School student working at the post in a mentoring program.

Thompson steered her toward some initial resources and after that West “really ran with it,” recalls Thompson. “She did an excellent job.”

Using various online resources such as Ancestry.com and Google, West started getting hits on the name. She was then able to search family trees to narrow down the hunt. She even received help from the Pendleton Co. Historical Society. The entire process involved about 13 hours of research.

“The fact that he died so young, with no wife or children, added difficulty to the search,” West said. “Although he had six sisters and five brothers, most of them had already passed away.”

“His military records only gave his mother as a family contact,” noted Thompson.

“The trail finally led to a brother in Florida, who referred us to Gary Bowling, a nephew, who, ironically, lives only a few miles from Post 6,” she added.

“The whole process was an exciting and rewarding experience,” said West, who hopes to pursue a college major in criminology. “It was really interesting to track down the elements of the story and help a family reunite with a piece of its history.”

Pfc. Herman A. Bowling was buried in a temporary grave on Guam. In 1948, his remains were repatriated to the U.S. and interred in Gardnersville Cemetery in Pendleton County, Ky.

The Purple Heart is the oldest known U.S. military decoration. Introduced as the “Badge for Military Merit by Gen. George Washington in 1782, it originally consisted of a heart-shaped piece of purple cloth or silk to be worn over the left breast. Today it takes the form of a heart-shaped medal within a gold border containing a profile of Gen. Washington. Above the heart is the general’s coat of arms.

It is awarded in the name of the President of the United States and it differs from all other decorations in that the individual is not “recommended” for the award, but is entitled to it after meeting specific criteria. It is ranked immediately behind the Bronze Star and ahead of the Defense Meritorious Service Medal in order of precedence.

Copyright 2014 KFVS. All rights reserved.

  • Heartland NewsMore>>

  • First Alert: Temps much cooler today, more rain possible

    First Alert: Temps much cooler today, more rain possible

    Friday, June 22 2018 6:52 AM EDT2018-06-22 10:52:44 GMT
    There could be rain in the future for the Northern counties (Source: KFVS)There could be rain in the future for the Northern counties (Source: KFVS)
    There could be rain in the future for the Northern counties (Source: KFVS)There could be rain in the future for the Northern counties (Source: KFVS)

    Laura Wibbenmeyer says the cooler weather will stick around today because clouds and rain showers will rotate through.

    Laura Wibbenmeyer says the cooler weather will stick around today because clouds and rain showers will rotate through.

  • What you need to know June 22

    What you need to know June 22

    Friday, June 22 2018 5:24 AM EDT2018-06-22 09:24:32 GMT
    The chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms will be possible. (Source: Pixabay)The chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms will be possible. (Source: Pixabay)
    The chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms will be possible. (Source: Pixabay)The chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms will be possible. (Source: Pixabay)

    Good Friday morning, it is June 22. First Alert Forecast There will be a cooler start to the day with many of us waking up in the 60’s. 

    Good Friday morning, it is June 22. First Alert Forecast There will be a cooler start to the day with many of us waking up in the 60’s. 

  • What you need to know June 21

    What you need to know June 21

    Friday, June 22 2018 5:22 AM EDT2018-06-22 09:22:39 GMT
    Rain could be coming our way (Source: Pixabay)Rain could be coming our way (Source: Pixabay)

    Good morning, it is Thursday, June 21. First Alert Forecast Scattered rain this morning will push out of the area.

    Good morning, it is Thursday, June 21. First Alert Forecast Scattered rain this morning will push out of the area.

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • Body left on ground 8 hours into MO murder investigation

    Body left on ground 8 hours into MO murder investigation

    Friday, June 22 2018 6:31 AM EDT2018-06-22 10:31:27 GMT
    Friday, June 22 2018 7:12 AM EDT2018-06-22 11:12:31 GMT

    The victim's mother stayed on the scene, watching in disbelief, wondering why it took so long for authorities to move his body.

    The victim's mother stayed on the scene, watching in disbelief, wondering why it took so long for authorities to move his body.

  • Vaccine may reverse Type 1 diabetes

    Vaccine may reverse Type 1 diabetes

    Thursday, June 21 2018 3:54 PM EDT2018-06-21 19:54:12 GMT
    Thursday, June 21 2018 3:54 PM EDT2018-06-21 19:54:12 GMT
    The vaccine helps fight Type 1 diabetes by stopping the immune system from attacking the pancreas. (Source: Pixabay)The vaccine helps fight Type 1 diabetes by stopping the immune system from attacking the pancreas. (Source: Pixabay)

    The vaccine helps fight Type 1 diabetes by stopping the immune system from attacking the pancreas.

    The vaccine helps fight Type 1 diabetes by stopping the immune system from attacking the pancreas.

  • Trump jabbed first, and now world hits back in trade fight

    Trump jabbed first, and now world hits back in trade fight

    Friday, June 22 2018 1:13 AM EDT2018-06-22 05:13:01 GMT
    Friday, June 22 2018 6:28 AM EDT2018-06-22 10:28:53 GMT
    (Chinatopix via AP). FILE - In this April 8, 2018 file photo, a container is loaded onto a cargo ship at a port in Qingdao in east China's Shandong province. China has accused the United States on Thursday, June 21, 2018, of using pressure tactics and ...(Chinatopix via AP). FILE - In this April 8, 2018 file photo, a container is loaded onto a cargo ship at a port in Qingdao in east China's Shandong province. China has accused the United States on Thursday, June 21, 2018, of using pressure tactics and ...

    Trump got in the first jabs; now the world is punching back as the trade brawl spreads.

    Trump got in the first jabs; now the world is punching back as the trade brawl spreads.

Powered by Frankly