Longest-serving Marine retires after 43 years of service
By CAROL ANN BENANTI | Staten Island Advance (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 5, 2017
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — After more than 43 years of service to our country, United States Marine Corps Col. Edmund J. Bowen retired during a solemn, ceremonial tribute hosted recently in Washington, D.C.
At the time of his retirement Col. Bowen was the longest active U.S. Marine on duty.
Col. Bowen's sister, Sharen Bowen Grube, tells us her brother was born and raised on Staten Island and was a paper carrier for the Staten Island Advance during the 1960s -- right before joining the work force at the former Acme Supermarket on Castleton Avenue.
Highly respected in the Staten Island community, Col. Bowen mentored young adults interested in a career in the military.
He lived in Fort Wadsworth and recruited many borough residents when his office was located on Bay Street.
The second eldest of nine children (two boys and seven girls) to Edmund and Marian Bowen, who both passed during the year 2003, many may recall the Bowen family resided for some 40 years at the corner of Bard Avenue and Linden Street in Livingston.
"We are a very close family," says Grube, adding that during her brother's years at Curtis High School he trained to be a boxer, a career their dad greatly supported. In fact, the Bowens cherish old home movies their dad filmed when his son was in the ring.
"My brother was up for the Golden Gloves when he joined the Marine Corps and continued boxing during his early years with the Marines."
He later relocated to California to continue his long military career along with his wife, Deb, and their four children, who always supported him in all of his endeavors.
To commemorate his retirement, family and friends traveled from near and far to Quantico, Va. and then to Washington, D.C. to the Marine Corps Base for the moving ceremony, that was followed by a tour of the Marine Corps Museum -- and then capped by the evening's festivities at clubs in Quantico, "Hawaiian-style."
"My brother Eddie then visited Staten Island where we celebrated again enjoying our night at Larry Liedy's Shore Inn -- Larry also attended the retirement ceremony," Grube says.
And she adds her brother confided to her, when he's on Staten Island he feels like he's home.
But to backtrack for a moment: Col. Bowen enlisted in the US Marine Corps in September of 1972 and attended Recruit Training in Parris Island, S.C.
His enlisted assignments included Engineer Equipment Operator, 2nd Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune; Platoon Sergeant, 3rd Shore Party Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, Okinawa, Japan; NCOIC, Recruiting Sub-Station, Brooklyn New York; and SNCOIC, Engineer Equipment Platoon, 1st Landing Support Battalion and 1st Force Service Support Group, Camp Pendleton.
While on recruiting duty he was promoted to the rank of Gunnery Sergeant, meritoriously.
Col. Bowen was appointed to Warrant Officer in 1985, Chief Warrant Officer in 1987, First Lieutenant, Limited Duty Officer (LDO) in 1988, and he re-designated as an unrestricted line officer in January 1991.
His past combat assignments included Operation DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM; Operation RESTORE HOPE, Somalia, Africa; Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, Baghdad Iraq; and two tours Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
He is a graduate of Marine Corps Engineer School, Amphibious Warfare School, Advance Logistics Officer Course, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the Air War College.
Col. Bowen holds a bachelor of science degree in management from Linfield College, a master of Military Studies from the Marine Corps University, and a master of Strategic Studies from the Air University.
His personal decorations include the Legion of Merit with gold star in lieu of second award; Bronze Star Medal; Defense Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster; Meritorious Service Medal; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with two gold stars; Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with two gold stars; and the Combat Action Ribbon.
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