However, even now, as a 65-year-old great grandfather of two, Sowers can recall every detail of each event and how close he came to returning home from Southeast Asia either seriously wounded or in a flag-covered coffin.
“When you have as close a brush with death twice inside of a year as a member of the military fighting in Vietnam as I did, you can’t help but reflect on them each day and how lucky you were to make it home alive as so many of my fellow servicemen and women didn’t,” said the former Army sergeant, who received two Bronze Stars for his heroic actions in Southeast Asia and, in so doing, earned the nickname, “Mr. Lucky” from his Army buddies.
Sowers served one complete year-long tour of duty in Southeast Asia from September, 1967 through September, ‘68 and then returned in November, ‘68 and served through of 1969.
“However, these events, and thoughts about many of my friends who were killed or seriously wounded over there, really comes to mind on Veterans Day and Memorial Day,” Sowers said.
His first brush with death came in January, ‘68 as Sowers and a fellow Army soldier serving with him were part of a company on a mission as they walked down a Vietnam road.
Suddenly, a Chinese mortar round, landed directly between Sowers and the other soldier.
“It didn’t go off but just lay there hissing right between us,” Sowers remembered. “If it had exploded, we would not have had time to take cover.”
Then, almost 12 months later, Sowers had another close call while on another patrol.
Serving as the point man directly in front of a detachment of soldiers, he was out front, in the open, when they unit was ambushed.
“By the time I yelled for the guys to take cover, the Viet Cong had opened up on us with small arms fire,” he remembered. “Even though I was out front, I didn’t get a scratch, but seven guys walking directly behind me were seriously wounded,” he added.
Although he was twice decorated with the Bronze Star, Sowers said the real heroes were his fellow servicemen who didn’t make it back alive.