News: Marine shows strength, support from afar
Story by Lance Cpl. Krista James
MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU, Romania - Being away from family during the holidays is tough for anyone. For service members, this can be even harder due to deployments, and for some, being away from home can mean losing precious time with loved ones who are sick.
Lance Cpl. Samuel Bowers, a team leader with Black Sea Rotational Force 14, an Everett, Wash. native, and this week’s Marine of the Week, knows this struggle all too well.
As Marine of the Week, Bowers has demonstrated the core values of honor, courage and commitment, his leadership abilities, hard work, determination, physical strength, and above all else, mental toughness. While deployed during the holidays, he is missing out on valuable time with his mother. Bowers admits that the hardest part about being a Marine is being away from home, especially while his mother spends her first holiday battling breast cancer.
Next to skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer will claim the lives of approximately 39,620 women in 2013 alone. However, there are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States at this time.
Bowers’ mother, Teresa Skinner-Bowers, agrees that the worst part of her son being a Marine is the fact that he is not with the family.
“I was excited, proud and terrified [when he told me he was joining the military], excited because he’s doing something positive in his life and serving our country, and terrified that he’d lose his life in the process,” said Bowers’ mother. “That’s the hardest part about having him be a Marine is that he can’t be a Marine at home.”
“She found out in April [of this year], the day after her birthday, but she waited until June to tell me. She was worried about how I would react while I was still away training for deployment,” said Bowers. “She didn’t want me focusing on home. She wanted me focusing on what I was doing.”
Sergeant Nicholas Zablonski, Bowers’ squad leader and Newport News, Va. native, said all of Bowers’ brothers in the ground combat element are there for him when he needs them.
“I think it’s difficult for him, but at the same time he knows that he can talk to anyone in the platoon, and anybody will be willing to listen and to give him the opportunity to talk to his mother,” said Zablonski.
“At first I was really worried that my mom wouldn’t overcome it, and I wouldn’t be able to see her, and then I came to realize that when she got her biopsy, it got most of the cancer out. They put her on radiation treatments a few weeks ago and she’s been doing really well with that, so she’s almost in the clear,” said Bowers.
Zablonski said that through his mental and physical strength, Bowers has exceeded that which is expected of him.
“I think [he] did very well in out-performing his peers, [along with] being promoted to team leader. He’s one of the few Lance Cpl. team leaders within the ground combat element,” said Zablonski. “It’s his ability to learn and adapt. His knowledge base has grown exponentially since he’s gotten into the platoon, and I think he’s done a very good job at using that knowledge to help him to get these higher billets.”
Being mentally tough for your family shows a lot about your character, which in Bowers’ case, has reflected through his mission of helping to promote regional stability and security, increasing military capacity and interoperability, and being the crisis-contingency force in the Eastern European region, with BSRF-14.