Following more than four decades of active duty service, the country’s longest-serving Marine retired.
United States Marine Corps Col. Edmund J. Bowen served his country for over 43 years and was recently honored in Washington, D.C. during a ceremonial tribute, Stars and Stripes reported.
Bowen, who was born and raised on Staten Island and the second oldest of nine children, enlisted in 1972 after working as a paper carrier and went to Parris Island, South Carolina, for training. Bowen had previously trained as a boxer when he first joined the Marines, a sport which he continued during the early years of his military career.
Bowen later acted as engineer equipment operator for 2nd Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune; platoon sergeant, 3rd Shore Party Battalion, 3rd Marine Division in Okinawa, Japan; senior non-commissioned officer at the recruiting sub-station in Brooklyn, New York; and senior NCO of Engineer Equipment Platoon, 1st Landing Support Battalion and 1st Force Service Support Group at Camp Pendleton.
In addition, Bowen served in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm; Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, Africa; Operation Iraqi Freedom in Baghdad Iraq; and completed two tours in Operation Enduring Freedom in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
During his service, Bowen earned 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.
Bowen’s sister, Sharen Bowen Grube, said her brother was a highly respected member of the Staten Island community. He would often mentor to young residents who expressed interest in a military career and recruited a number of Staten Island residents into the military.
Bowen and his wife, Deb, have four adult children, all of whom he said have always supported his career.
“We are a very close family,” said Grube.