Fallen Hononegah graduate honored in Veterans Day observance


Spec. Brandon J. Rowe, (1982-2003)

Hononegah Community High School observed Veterans Day with the dedication of the SPC Brandon Rowe Memorial near the entrance of the school. Rowe, who lived in Roscoe, was a 2000 Hononegah graduate. In an 8:50 a.m. ceremony led by Principal Chad Dougherty, a special board of newspaper articles about Rowe was unveiled in his honor next to the current military wall. Senior Natalie Hahn concluded the celebration of Veterans Day by singing the Star Spangled Banner, followed by a moment of silence and the Pledge of Allegiance. 

Signs will be installed at 251/Bridge Street and 251/Rockton Road, naming it"Spc. Brandon Rowe Highway."

Mr. Dougherty had spoken with Wendy Borowski, Brandon Rowe's mother. Everyone who knew Rowe appreciated his great sense of humor. He enjoyed meeting new people. He worked at Di Giovanni's Ristorante (now Mary's Market) and Hilander Supermarket (now Schnuck's).

Even when he was at Hononegah, Rowe had wanted to join the army someday, but with his mother's encouragement, spent time at Rock Valley College before enlisting in 2001. According to the Associated Press, after hearing about a friend who had joined the Army, Rowe joined too, hoping to earn money to start a career in computers He ended up liking the camaraderie of the Army. He was at Army boot camp when the 9/11 attacks occurred in New York City.

"He cared about the guys that he was in the platoon with," his mother said.

Rowe was assigned to C Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, KY.

Rowe's father, Milton Rowe of Elkhorn City, KY, said he had once tried to talk his son out of joining the 101st Airborne Division: "Son, why don't you join one of the other services?" Rowe said, "Dad, somebody has got to do the dirty, hard work."

Dougherty said that Rowe spoke with his mother on March 1, 2003. "Concerned, she asked him what he wanted her to do if something should happen to him." He gave her "the names and numbers of all of his buddies" so she could inform them.

“In his last letter, he included a little note to say he hadn’t gotten very much mail; letters were like gold,” his mother said. A day after he sent it, he left a message on the answering machine, asking for extra supplies in a care package.

On March 31, 2003, when he was 20 years old, Rowe was killed in action by enemy artillery in Ayyub, Babil Province, Iraq, near the Iraqi city of Najaf. He is believed to be the first person from the 101st Airborne Division to die in the war. His funeral visitation and memorial service were held on Apr. 12, 2003 at Hononegah Community High School. His last letter home arrived that day.

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