Like more than 1600 American families around the country, the McGowan family received notice that Stephen McGowan, 26, brother to senior Michaela McGowan, was killed Friday, March 4, while serving in Iraq.
McGowan was serving in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division of the U.S. Army when a roadside bomb exploded, killing him and three other fellow soldiers. The United States Central Command said in a press release, “Four soldiers assigned to I Marine Expeditionary Force were killed in action March 4, while conducting security and stability operations in the Al Anbar province.”
McGowan is one of 12 U.S. soldiers who have been killed since the start of March. Fifty-eight U.S. soldiers were killed last month, and 1685 U.S. soldiers have perished since the start of the war.
The death of Stephen McGowan brought the Iraq war close to home and forced students to look at the war with different eyes, “It gives us a reality check of our own mortality,” junior Chris Friel said.
“This tragedy hitting so close to home certainly does put a face on the human suffering that is always the result of the senselessness of war,” said Chaplain Father Michael Bielecki.
Michaela McGowan was volunteering on the annual Project Appalachia in West Virginia and did not find out about her brother until she returned on Saturday. “She’s surviving, she was so close to her brother,” friend Christina Callahan said.
This wasn’t Stephen McGowan’s first experience serving in the military overseas. Since he joined the Army three years ago, he was stationed in Korea for 15 months. He then spent a short time home after being in Korea and in August was shipped to Iraq to serve. In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Stephen’s father, Fran DiDomenicis said, “He felt that, as a single person with no children, he could go and take someone else’s spot.”
McGowan had two previous close calls while in Iraq. On one occasion, an artillery round landed near him, but never exploded. “He wanted to serve in the Army, partly I think, because he could not find a job with enough challenge and adrenaline in other careers he had considered. He enjoyed challenge, especially physical challenge and the mental challenge that went with it-the challenge to try harder, get stronger, push the limits,” DiDomenicis told the Sun.
Friend, senior Christa Angeloni said, “For as long as I’ve known Michaela she was always talking about Steve.” Angeloni said that Michaela McGowan always fondly shared stories of growing up with Stephen. She recalled how they protected each other from a bully when they were younger. “They were more than just family, they were best friends,” Angeloni said.
When he wasn’t on missions, he liked to keep busy by handing out beanie babies to Iraqi children. Cabrini’s radio station, WYBF, held a drive just before Christmas break in order to collect goods and beanie babies for McGowan to give out. McGowan’s mother, Bobbie, helped collect dolls for him and his fellow soldiers to give out.
McGowan’s remains were flown into Dover Air Force Base in his home state of Delaware on Monday, March 7 and funeral service are expected to be held next week.
Michaela McGowan’s friends hope to a hold memorial service for her brother, “He was her life,” junior elementary education major Maureen Cooper said. Her friends also have a card that they plan to give to Michaela next week when they attend the funeral. For those who would like to send their condolences, the card will be available Tuesday, March 8 and throughout the week in the Wolfington Center.
Posted to the web Shawn Rice