Kevin Mowl, who was injured in Iraq, recently received the Purple Heart from his commander during his stay in the hospital.
He has now spent about three months at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and the last two weeks have held a couple of special events for Pittsford native and U.S. Army Spc. Kevin Mowl.
On Oct. 23, Mowl was presented with the Purple Heart, the military’s oldest decoration from Commander Steve Townsend, who led Mowl’s 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, which is based in Fort Lewis, Wash.
A day later, Mowl and his family celebrated his 22nd birthday.
“We are very honored that Kevin received the Purple Heart and joined the many other soldiers who were killed or injured in the line of duty for our country,” said Kevin’s father, Harold Mowl, through an e-mail. “He has improved a lot since last August, but he still has a long road of recuperation ahead of him. When he feels much better, I am sure he will appreciate all our concern and support for him, including the Purple Heart recognition.”
Harold Mowl said the family’s focus is still on Kevin’s recovery. He was the most severely injured soldier in his brigade to receive the Purple Heart, which is awarded to soldiers who are wounded or killed.
Normally, the Purple Heart is given to a soldier immediately, but because of the severity of Mowl’s injuries, the military waited and held a special ceremony for him last month.
On Aug. 2, Mowl and his Stryker Battalion were on patrol in East Rashid, a southern portion of Baghdad. Mowl's vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device that contained about 150 pounds of explosives. It was hidden in a storm drain.
Along with Mowl, 11 other soldiers and an interpreter were injured and three soldiers were killed. Mowl suffered a brain injury and multiple fractures in the explosion.
He was transported to an Army hospital in Germany before being flown to Maryland Aug. 5, where he was placed in the intensive care unit in Washington, D.C. From there, he was moved to Bethesda.
“I think this really shows everybody how brave and heroic he is,” said Mowl’s sister, Carlene Mowl, who lives in New York City and visits him on a regular basis. “He’s received a lot of medals and (special) coins from visitors, but this is actually something he earned himself and I know it’s something he’s going to cherish for the rest of his life.”
For his birthday, the staff at the hospital sang “Happy Birthday” to Kevin, who was also visited by his cousin.
Carlene noted that on Oct. 27 Kevin stayed awake for four hours, which had been the longest amount of time yet. He has also finger spelled with his family since early October, a skill he learned from his deaf parents.
Carlene said the last month has been a good one for her brother, who has been free of infection since Sept. 30. Over the last three months, he has had surgeries to repair numerous broken bones throughout his body and had part of his skull removed to ease pressure from his brain.
Doctors have also grafted skin to parts of his leg. Last week, he had shunt surgery, which placed a tube into his body to help drain spinal fluid.
“He went through a lot that day and it’s nice for him to have some sort of honor to recognize what he did,” Carlene said.
Leave a message for Kevin and his family:
To help keep friends and family up-to-date on what’s happening with Kevin, the Mowl family created a Web site to track his daily progress at caring-bridge.org/visit/kevinmowl. The site offers a daily journal and a guest book, where visitors can leave messages for the family.
Since its creation on Aug. 4, more than 40,000 people have visited and more than 800 messages have been left for Kevin and his family.
Bryan Roth can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 270, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.