Joe Bowser: A Patriot, a Father, a Hockey Player
This is a story of strength, inspiration, and the love of the game. This is the story of Joe Bowser.
Joe fell in love with the sport of hockey around age nine. In school he would sit, anxiously waiting to head home and get out on the ice. One of his most memorable Christmas presents was his very first pair of skates. As Joe grew, his love for hockey continued to grow with him. Upon graduating high school, Joe made the honorable decision to serve his country. He enlisted in the army and became a transport operator. After some time in the service, he got married and started a family. As a father of 4, Joe still spent some time in the army reserves. On a day that impacted countless lives around the world, September 11th 2001, Joe had the overwhelming desire to serve his country. He made the decision to enlist again, and was deployed to Iraq.
In 2004, the day after Easter Sunday, Joe called his family from a phone tent at his base. He spoke with his kids, told them he loved them, and then left the phone tent to get some dinner. As he walked out of the tent he heard the distinct sound of an incoming round. The round hit close behind him, exploded, and sent shrapnel stabbing into the backside of his body. One piece entered his heel and came out through the bottom of his foot. Another piece penetrated his femoral artery. The pain was excruciating. In the middle of all this commotion, unsure if he was going to survive, Joe was assisted by 2 females who assured him everything would be ok. He was moved to a hospital in Germany to undergo an emergency surgery, and a week later was moved to Walter Reed Army Medical Center In Washington, DC.
He was given the option of keeping his leg and enduring a life of pain, or amputating it and being able to play hockey again. At the time, the choice was easy, however the gravity of the decision was still immense. He chose to lose a piece of himself forever to preserve his ability to play the game he loved. He began the road to recovery, became accustomed to his prosthetic, and relearned how to skate.
Joe joined the US Amputee Hockey Team in 2007 and went on to win a silver medal at an international tournament. He even had the opportunity to hold the Stanley Cup. Through all of this struggle and sacrifice, Joe has still maintained an infectious sense of humor. Joe credits hockey for a lot of positive things in his life. He is currently a member of USA Warriors Ice Hockey, a program that Pro Stock Hockey proudly supports.
Joe was featured on the FOX Sports series "Warriors Among Us". You can check out the segment here.