AMERICAN FLAG FLY-IN
Dana Bowman has astounded the nation and the world with his drive, determination, and will to succeed. He is a retired Sergeant First Class with the U.S. Army where he was a Special Forces Soldier and a member of the U.S. Army’s elite parachute team, the Golden Knights. Dana is a double amputee.
He lost his legs in an accident during the annual Golden Knights training in Yuma, Arizona. On February 6,1994, Bowman gained worldwide attention when he and his teammate SGT Jose Aguillon collided in midair during the team’s annual training. Bowman and Aguillon were practicing a maneuver known as the Diamond Track, a tactic which calls for the jumpers to streak away from each other for about a mile, then turn 180 degrees and fly back toward each other crisscrossing in the sky. Bowman and Aguillon had demonstrated the Diamond Track more than fifty times without a mistake, but this time, it was different.
Rather than crisscrossing, the two skydivers slammed into each other at a combined speed of 300 miles per hour. Aguillon died instantly; Bowman’s legs were severed from his body, one above the knee and one below the knee. Bowman’s parachute opened on impact. He was taken to a hospital in Phoenix where doctors closed his leg wounds and stopped his internal bleeding.
Nine months later, he turned this tragedy into a triumph when he became the first double amputee to re-enlist in the United States Army. Bowman re-enlisted airborne style, skydiving with his commander into the ceremony, making his dream a reality. This achievement is just one example of Bowman’s many successes under adverse circumstances.
After Dana’s re-enlistment, he became the US Parachute Team’s lead speaker and recruiting commander. During his 20 years in the US Army, Bowman’s many activities and honors in the military include being awarded a bronze star for valor in 1989 during the conflict in Panama. He served in the Grenada invasion and speaks fluent Spanish. He also served as a Special Forces soldier, sniper and combat diver.
In 1995, Bowman was honored as Veteran of the Year. In 1996, he made his last jump as a Golden Knight into the opening ceremonies of the Paralympic Games in Atlanta.
With more than 400 speeches in the last few years, Dana has been fortunate to have the opportunity to touch so many from the physically challenged to the able-bodied. He strives to show physically challenged people they have value and can work and excel in today’s society and military. Dana emphasizes the words amputee and uselessness are not synonymous.
He has been featured in magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Reader’s Digest, People and many more. There have also been numerous television programs which focused on Dana and his story. Some of the programs include: Dateline, A Current Affair, Real TV, NBC Person of the Week, Day and Date, and Extra.
After retiring from the United States Army in 1996, he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Commercial Aviation at the University of North Dakota in May 2000, the first member of his family to earn a college degree and graduating with honor. As of today, Bowman is the only double amputee commercial helicopter instructor pilot in the world, as well as a commercial hot air balloon pilot.
Currently, Dana spends a great deal of his personal time working with other amputees and disabled or physically challenged people. Dana’s inspiring personal story, his get up and go attitude, and no holds barred bravado inspires other amputees to walk again. Let Dana parachute the American flag into your next event!