BRIGHTON — Dan Bowers’ life became a little easier Aug. 12 when the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) presented him with a motorized scooter at the Florida Seminole Veterans Building on Brighton Reservation. A Vietnam War veteran, Bowers suffers from the effects of Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant used during the war.
“I’ve had diabetes since 1979, but I’m still hanging around,” Bowers said. “I’ve been using the scooter and it’s a big help.”
The Invacare Lynx L-3X compact scooter was donated by Mo Krausman, of St. Petersburg, whose mother used it and wanted it to go to a veteran after she passed away. Krausman reached out to Mike Bousher of the VVA Chapter 522 in St. Petersburg, who contacted Marc McCabe, bureau chief and regional director of VVA, who knew exactly who needed one.
Bowers, 73, had previously contacted McCabe’s office, which found the scooter and refurbished it.
“Dan reached out because of his failing health due to Agent Orange,” McCabe said.
In addition to diabetes, Bowers requires dialysis three days a week. He may not be as healthy as he once was, but as a strapping young man of 23, Bowers enlisted for a four-year tour in the U.S. Marine Corps.
He reported for duty at Camp Pendleton in southern California, where he learned basic combat operations, rifle squad tactics, visual communication, land mine warfare and wire communications. He was then sent to Okinawa Island in Japan where he acquired more intensive radio and wire communications skills.
Lance Cpl. Bowers arrived in Vietnam as a wireman and radio specialist in 1966. After noncommissioned officer (NCO) training, he was promoted to sergeant and sent to Da Nang, Chu Lai and Phu Bai in Vietnam.
For his service, Bowers was honored with the Vietnam Campaign, National Defense Service, Vietnamese Service and Good Conduct medals. He was released from combat duty in 1968, honorably discharged in 1970 and continued to serve as a reservist until 1972.
“That was 50 years ago, but it doesn’t seem that long ago,” he said. “I was hoping to make a career of it, but Vietnam was enough. It wasn’t like a normal war that you could win right away; it was a political war.”
After his military career, Bowers worked in construction and built Housing and Urban Development (HUD) houses in Brighton, Hollywood, Sunrise and Miramar. In the 1980s, he worked for the Tribe as director of its Construction Department.