Weatherford Democrat

March 10, 2013

Bowman tapped as EP chamber luncheon speaker


Weatherford Democrat

— Renowned inspirational speaker and Weatherford resident Dana Bowman will be the guest speaker at the East Parker County Chamber of Commerce’s March Membership Luncheon.

The luncheon is 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, at New River Fellowship Church, 3252 E. Interstate 20, in Hudson Oaks. Parking is located behind the church. The cost is $20.

Bowman has astounded the nation and the world with his drive, determination and will to succeed.

He is a retired sergeant first class with the U.S. Army where he was a special forces soldier and a member of the U.S. Army’s elite parachute team, the Golden Knights.

On Feb. 6, 1994, Bowman gained worldwide attention when he and his teammate, Sgt. Jose Aguillon, collided in midair over Yuma, Ariz., during the team’s annual training.

Bowman and Aguillon were practicing a maneuver known as the “diamond track.” The maneuver calls for the jumpers to streak away from each other for about a mile and then turn 180 degrees and fly back toward each other crisscrossing in the sky. Bowman and Aguillon had demonstrated the manuever more than 50 times without a mistake, but this time was different.

Rather than crisscrossing, the skydivers slammed into each other at a combined speed of 300 miles per hour. Aguillon died instantly. Bowman’s legs were severed, one above the knee and one below the knee. Bowman’s parachute opened on impact. He was taken to a hospital in Phoenix, where doctors closed his leg wounds and stopped his internal bleeding.

Nine months later, he turned this tragedy into a triumph when he became the first double amputee to re-enlist in the United States Army. Bowman re-enlisted in the United States Army airborne style, skydiving with his commander into the ceremony, making his dream a reality. This achievement is just one example of Bowman’s many successes under adverse circumstances.

After Bowman’s re-enlistment, he became the U.S. Parachute Team’s lead speaker and recruiting commander. He has been fortunate to have his speeches touch so many from the physically challenged to the able-bodied. He strives to show physically challenged people can still work and excel in today’s society and military. Bowman emphasizes the words amputee and uselessness are not synonymous.

He has given more than 400 speeches in the last few years and has been featured in magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Reader’s Digest, People and many more. There have also been numerous television programs that focused on Dana and his story. Some of the programs include: “Dateline,” “A Current Affair,” “Real TV,” and “Extra.”

Bowman retired from the United States Army in 1996. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in commercial aviation at the University of North Dakota in May of 2000. He spends a great deal of his personal time working with other amputees and disabled or physically challenged people. Bowman inspires other amputees to walk again. His future plans are to continue to speak to the public and fly helicopters.