January 5, 2007
Former Golden Knight Parachutist to speak at Cowley
While looking toward the sky on Jan.24-25, Arkansas City residents might catch a glimpse of Sgt. 1st Class Dana Bowman, U.S. Army (Ret), skydiving into a few local schools. The skydiving activities will be part of a three day schedule of presentations in which Bowman will speak on a number of inspirational topics. He will speak as part of Cowley College’s “Find The Noise” speaker series on Jan. 25.
Bowman’s presentation of “It’s Not the Disability, It’s the Ability,” will take place in Cowley’s Robert Brown Theatre at 6 p.m. All Events Are Free to the Public with the exception of the Arkansas City Chamber Annual Meeting and Banquet.
Bowman will begin his three-day schedule of presentations at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 23 by speaking at the 95th Arkansas City Chamber Annual Meeting and Banquet. Tickets to the annual meeting are available by calling the Chamber office at (620) 442-0230.
On Jan. 24, Bowman’s day will begin at 10 a.m. with a parachute jump to C-4 Elementary School, where he will give an hour long presentation before heading to Jefferson Elementary to speak. Bowman will end his second day with a presentation to the Blue Skies Group that evening.
He will begin his final day with a presentation to Roosevelt Elementary School students and then to Arkansas City Middle School students. After lunch, Bowman will head back to the skies to perform another jump at the Arkansas City High School at 1:30 p.m.
The school district will be bussing students from the schools that he will not visit so nearly all of the students in the district will be able to hear one of his presentations. His last event will be as part of Cowley College’s “Find the Noise” speaker series.
Bowman has astounded the nation and the world with his drive, determination, and will to succeed. While in the military, Bowman was a Special Forces Soldier and a member of the U.S. Army’s elite parachute team, the Golden Knights. Bowman is a double amputee. He lost his legs in an accident during the annual Golden Knights training in Yuma, Arizona, in 1994.
On February 6, 1994, Bowman gained worldwide attention when he and his teammate Sgt. Jose Aguillon collided in midair 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 Diamond Track more than 50 times without a mistake, but this time was different.
Rather than crisscrossing, the two skydivers slammed into each other at a combined speed of 300 miles per hour. Aguillon died instantly. Bowman’s legs were severed from his body, 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. Bowman has been fortunate to have the opportunity to let 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 is not synonymous.
Bowman has given more than 1,000 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, which focused on Bowman and his story. Some of the programs include: Dateline, A current Affair, Real TV, NBC Person of the Week, Day and Date and Extra.
Bowman retired from the United States Army in 1996. He received his bachelor’s degree in commercial aviation from UND Aerospace in Grand Forks, North Dakota in May of 2000.
Bowman spends a great deal of his personal time working with other amputees and disabled or physically challenged people. He also spends time at different military hospitals helping the wounded soldiers during the current world situation. He enjoys visiting patients at numerous healthcare facilities while on the road speaking.