To a degree, Cowling will miss his ‘team’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 24, 2003

What a difference a year makes.

From the snow-covered mountains of Afghanistan to the mild temperatures of Demopolis, Len Cowling II has seen both sides of the world and still isn’t sure where he’d rather be this Christmas.

Obviously, there’s a family here. Cowling and his wife have a new child, and with family and friends in Demopolis, being home for Christmas marks a welcome &045;&045; and safe &045;&045; change.

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But there’s still something tugging at Cowling. Maybe it’s the civilians in Afghanistan who have fended off the gruesome regime of the Taliban. Maybe it’s the duty that accompanies a soldier at heart. Maybe it’s "the team," as he describes it.

Born a self-proclaimed military brat, Cowling at one point gave college a shot. It didn’t take long to follow the blood lines of his father, Len Cowling I, and join the Armed Forces. And after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the younger Cowling felt he had no choice but to serve in the military.

First, Cowling II wanted to join the Army. He ended up in the National Guard, and it wasn’t long before Cowling was deployed to Afghanistan in the all-encompassing War on Terrorism.

Cowling’s mother didn’t take the decision as well as his father did. Cowling I, whose office is decorated with military honors, served in Vietnam and Desert Storm/Desert Shield as a lieutenant colonel with the Special Forces Unit. He understood the calling his son felt.

But even harder on the new member of the military, Cowling II had another responsibility at home, making his decision even harder. His wife was pregnant and leaving for war would mean missing the birth of his youngest son.

In fact, Cowling felt so duty-bound that not serving his country would have made him feel "guilty not being there."

That decision sent Cowling off to battle. That decision also made his father proud.

And that’s just what the younger Cowling did during his time in Afghanistan. He provided help to natives, and even discovered their appreciation for coalition forces.

Photographs taken during his time in Afghanistan prove the adage that pictures tell a thousand words. In the peaceful surroundings of the Afghan mountains, civilians learned to build a trust in Cowling and his fellow soldiers.

Cowling escaped the ultimate sacrifice of war and returned home to a wife, new son and plenty of loving family members. Today, as he celebrates Christmas, he’ll take part in the traditional events &045;&045; presents, a warm home and peaceful surroundings.

It’s evident Cowling is happy to be back in Demopolis. It’s also evident that he wouldn’t mind trudging through the snow-capped hills of Afghanistan again.

As for the Cowling family &045;&045; and especially the dad &045;&045; this Christmas will be, well… "super," as the father put it.

Along with Len Cowling II, his youngest son, Robert, is also home for the holidays. Robert Cowling is a sergeant in the Army, and is stationed in Germany. Though Robert must return to Germany, he’s scheduled to come back to the States in February, where he’ll be stationed at Fort Benning, Ga.