Bringing Home A Hero


Ethan Mansdorf

U.S. army remove the casket of Sgt. Sowell, draped in the American flag, from the Delta flight.

Ethan Mansdorf , Photo Editor

After 73 years of unknown valor, the remains of U.S. Sargent Richard Gordon Sowell, known to most as “Tiny,” have been brought home to West Palm Beach for a proper burial with full U.S. Army honors. Members of the Chiefs Criminal Justice Academy Honor Guard were there to witness the ceremony.

In July of 1944, 21 year old Sgt. Sowell was killed by a Japanese mortar shell during the WWII battle of Saipan. It was Sowell’s seventh active battle and after having enlisted in the Army in 1943. Under constant fire and bombardment, Sowell’s remains were unable to be removed and where later unidentifiable.

After 73 years in an unmarked grave in Hawaii’s “Punch Bowl” National Cemetery, Sgt. Sowell’s remains were positively DNA matched with his nephew. Immediately, the U.S. Army arranged to have his remains flown into the Palm Beach International Airport where he was greeted by the Army, PBSO, PBFD and Santaluces Honor Guards. Along with a fleet of motorcycle units, Army personnel, bag pipes and his aunt, who is the last person to have known Sgt. Sowell alive, to honor his heroic actions at war.

Richard Gordon Sowell was a Palm Beach County native who graduated from Palm Beach High and attended the University of Florida until the war. He was an accomplished boxer, baseball player beloved peer and friend to many.

For the ceremony, the Santaluces Criminal Justice Academy Honor Guard was invited to stand along side the Army, PBSO, and PBFD to welcome Sgt. Sowell home. The Chiefs Honor Guard was the only non-proffesional, student Honor Guard present at the ceremony.