Lafayette welcomes a hero home

Aug 13, 2012

Habitat for Humanity is constructing a home in a Lafayette subdivision.

The new tenant is a local war hero and his family.

As, WBAA’s Sam Klemet reports, the house is being built to honor a Marine who proved willing to sacrifice his life for his country.

Matt Bowman is already swirling around ideas for how he wants his new home to look

“Me and my dad, we want to build a deck (outside).  I've got to have a grilling area.  That's what I'm excited about and then my man cave upstairs" he said.  "I have a couple of autographed baseballs, but I have a lot of autographed memorabilia.  That is for that.”

The McCutcheon High School graduate and avid White Sox fan is moving back to Lafayette.

For the past year-and-a-half, Marine Corporal Bowman has been rehabbing from injuries sustained when a roadside bomb exploded while serving in Afghanistan.

"I remember the patrol we went on and then I remember waking up ten days later in ( the Military Medical Hospital) in Bethesda, (Maryland)," he recollected.

Bowman lost both his legs and several fingers on his left hand as a result of the bombing.

He was awarded a Purple Heart for his bravery.

Monday, the community where he grew up, met him with a hero’s welcome as he returned.

Supported by a cane and two new carbon fiber legs, Bowman proudly stepped down from a Lafayette fire truck that drove him to the site of his new home.

There he was greeted by friends, family, and well-wishers.

"This is wonderful.  It is just fantastic,” said Mary Budreau.

Sporting the same white shirt Bowman was wearing that features an American Flag and the words “Joining Forces,” Budreau was among those on hand to welcome her grandson home.

It’s been difficult for her to watch him suffer through the recovery process, but says his perseverance is what makes her and others so proud.

“There is nothing in the world that you can't achieve," she said "Until you've been in his shoes, what he's been doing with no legs and one arm, achieve what he's done in two years, it’s amazing.”

Budreau’s amazement at what her grandson has overcome is shared throughout the community.

Habitat for Humanity and other area organizations have teamed up to build Matt, his wife Paige, and three sons a new home in the Woodfield Village subdivision.

Lafayette Fire Chief Richard Doyle spearheaded the effort and says it’s a small token of appreciation for the sacrifices Bowman made for his country.

"Any young man or young woman who voluntarily joins the armed forces, must of us can't understand that they volunteer to go knowing that they are going to be in harms way," said Doyle. 

"And then to have gone through a traumatic injury like Matt has, that is going to effect the rest of his life, and to get to know him and the attitude he has, that's what you you start to get to know when you talk to him.  He's goal oriented.  He's already dealt with what's going on.  He's got plans. He's got a young family that he is responsible for and it's just really, really neat to  meet him.”

The home is currently under construction and Doyle expects it to be ready for the Bowmans to move in in October.

Matt’s wife Paige says the house and community support that has poured in since her husband was injured is overwhelming.

'I couldn't see us being anywhere else.  (The house) is made for him and our children have a very nice area to play," she said.  "I absolutely love it and that is why I absolutely fell in love with this town from the beginning."

Matt Bowman admits the road to recovery has not been easy.  He has many challenges ahead.  But the 24-year-old says what he lost in Afghanistan won’t define the rest of his life because he still has plenty left to accomplish.

“I want to be a history teacher and wrestling coach and also play wheelchair basketball," he said.

And his wife Paige says given his toughness so far, there is no reason Matt Bowman can’t make those dreams come true.

"He's a strong man, he's not going to give up.  He is just amazing at everything he does," she said.  "There is no keeping him down. You tell him 'no' he is going to do it anyway, so go Matt!”