Alaska services held for Schofield soldier
FAIRBANKS, Alaska » Dan Fowler summed up Army Spc. Joseph Love-Fowler's dynamic life.
"If there were two words to describe my son, they are 'accidental hero,'" Fowler said.
Love-Fowler, 22, of North Pole, was remembered in a celebration this past weekend.
The soldier died April 9 while serving in Iraq with the 84th Engineer Combat Battalion, 8th Sustainment Command, from Schofield Barracks.
A roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee during a convoy operation in Balad, seriously injuring him. He died a short time later. A funeral and burial were held for Love-Fowler last week in Washington.
The soldier graduated from Fairbanks Youth Alternative School in 2003 and joined the Army last year.
"We're here today, strangely enough, for a celebration," said Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Chaplain Murray Richmond, who presided at the memorial.
Richmond said Love-Fowler died for ideals such as freedom and goodness.
"Joe knew what he was living for and what he died for," Richmond said.
Richmond challenged the audience to share in the strain on servicemen and women, and their families left behind, during deployments. He quoted Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address, which called on citizens to "bind the nation's wounds."
"Who will answer the challenge Lincoln put forth in a time of war?" Richmond asked.
His father called him determined and even stubborn at times, recalling the time 5-year-old Joe took a running start at doing a handstand on a stone tile floor of a shopping mall. He crashed.
"But he had no clue he couldn't do that," Fowler said.
A sister, Brittany Fowler, recalled complaining to her parents once that her older brother was pestering her by "smiling all over me."
Gov. Frank Murkowski presented the family with an Alaska flag. He said the state and nation owe a debt to Love-Fowler and his family for their sacrifice.
"He was a true Alaskan who followed his heart," the governor said.
Others focused on the brotherhood and camaraderie that Love-Fowler shared with his Army buddies. His mother, Patricia Smith, said she was grateful to hear from several soldiers with whom Love-Fowler served.
"Part of who I am died with him in Iraq," his father said. "Joseph was truly an accidental hero, but a hero nonetheless."