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EDITORIAL: He lived and taught service to country
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EDITORIAL: He lived and taught service to country

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The T&D Stories of Honor program concludes for 2021 with a special section Sunday featuring the 12 profiles of people recognized this year for military service to our country.

The program for the third year accepted nominations of local veterans and active-duty military personnel from all branches of the armed forces. Nominees must be living in or have been from Orangeburg, Bamberg or Calhoun counties. Stories were featured weekly in The T&D and at TheTandD.com from April 25 through July 11.

The Times and Democrat was joined in 2021 by the series’ presenting sponsors -- Orangeburg County, Fogle’s Piggly Wiggly and South Carolina State University -- plus title sponsor Grubbs Furniture and community sponsor the Bill Connor Law Firm.

As we conclude the program for this year and anticipate another lineup of deserving people being nominated in 2022, there is need for a further acknowledgement. Though the Stories of Honor program recognizes living men and women, a man with a significant record of military service, and service to the military tradition of S.C. State University, was not among those featured prior to his death on June 4, 2020.

Retired Col. John Theodore Bowden Jr. was nominated this year by his wife Ruth Bowden, who cited her husband's “many years of honorable service to his country and the Orangeburg community.”

Here’s more about why we choose today to recognize Col. Bowden posthumously more than a year after his death:

Bowden, born in 1938, matriculated at South Carolina State and enrolled in the Reserve Officer's Training Corps (ROTC), graduating in 1960 with a degree in chemistry and a minor in mathematics. At graduation he was honored as one of three Distinguished Military Students in his class and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S.Army. He was immediately assigned to Fort Campbell, Ky., and was sent, temporarily, to Fort Benning, Georgia, to Jump School, where he earned a Parachute Badge before returning to Fort Campbell to serve with the prestigious 101st Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles).

While on active duty, Bowden earned a master’s degree from Pepperdine University in human resources management and several other awards and recognitions including The Parachute Badge, The Bronze Star (Vietnam), The Combat Infantry Badge, The Korean Defense Service Medal, The Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, The Meritorious Service Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters and The Army Commendation Medal.

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After 26-1/2 years of active duty (including assignments to Korea, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and various stateside duty stations), Bowden retired in November 1986. His final assignment was professor of military science at his alma mater. He commanded, historically, very large classes of young men and women at SCSU. He commissioned soldiers who have served and are serving honorably and successfully in the Armed Forces, some of whom are currently on active duty with the rank of general.

Upon his retirement, Bowden and his wife, Ruth, remained in Orangeburg. He joined the civilian workforce as an executive in higher education and was very active in the community serving on various boards and the S.C. Commission on Higher Education.

To Col. Bowden’s wife and three sons, we are proud to say thank you for his service to country and community – and in building the types of leaders the country’s military needs through his work at S.C. State.

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