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Bower soars as Civil Air Patrol chaplain

May 09, 2010|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- As the director of pastoral care at Western Maryland Hospital Center in Hagerstown for nearly two years, Richard Bower is supposed to have his focus directed to the heavens.

During his time on Earth, Bower also has gazed skyward as chaplain for the Civil Air Patrol in Washington County.

Bower, 62, recently was named 2009 Chaplain of the Year for Maryland and for the middle-eastern region of the United States during a ceremony presided over by Lt. Col. Barry McNew, commander of Hagerstown's CAP squadron.

The middle-eastern region includes all CAP units in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C.

"This was a surprise," Bower said. "I didn't even know I had been put in for the honor."

Bower said he is pleased because the recognition reflects on the CAP and its mission to mold and shape the lives of CAP cadets, five of whom have gone to military academies.

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Bower also is chaplain of the National Honor Guard Academy at McDaniel College in Westminster, Md., where cadets from all 50 states learn how to perform memorial services.

The Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force for 68 years, is a nonprofit organization with 58,000 members nationwide. In its auxiliary role, CAP performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search-and-rescue missions as directed by the Air Force rescue coordination center. CAP was credited with saving 72 lives in fiscal year 2009.

Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counterdrug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 23,000 young people participating in CAP cadet programs.

Bower, a native of Carlisle, Pa., earned degrees in biology and medical technology from Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa. He earned his master of divinity degree in urban ministry from Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, N.Y., in 1987.

Fully qualified in the chaplain and medical service corps in the U.S. Army, Bower has had ministries in churches, the military and institutions.

While a patient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for injuries he received in Iraq, Bower ministered to patients there.

He retired from active-duty military service two years ago with 30 years under his belt.

In his civilian life, he has been an ordained minister for 23 years. He also holds a registry with the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

Bower has been married for nearly 42 years to Shirley Ann. They have three children, Christal Lynn, Amanda Mae and Abigail Joy, and seven grandchildren.

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