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SC National Guard soldier dies in accident while deployed in Washington, DC

A folded flag sits on a casket during ceremonial funeral training at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 22, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Sadie Colbert/Released)
January 08, 2023

A 21-year-old South Carolina man deployed to Washington, D.C. with the South Carolina National Guard died in an accident in December.

River Lee Bowling of Six Mile, South Carolina, died Dec. 18 in a non-combat incident that remains under investigation, Maj. Karla Evans, spokesperson for the Guard said in a press release Tuesday.

Bowling was assigned to Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 263rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, out of Easley. He joined the Army in March 2020 and served as an air defense battle management system operator. He was awarded the Army Achievement Medal during his service..

“It is with heavy hearts and deepest condolences that we announce the passing of Spc. River Lee Bowling,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Van McCarty, the adjutant general for South Carolina..

Bowling’s obituary released Monday by the Liberty Mortuary said his cause of death was a “tragic accident.”

His body was returned to South Carolina Tuesday afternoon.

The obituary described him as an outdoorsman who loved fishing, hiking and kayaking. He joined the National Guard in 2020, a year after graduating from DW Daniel High School in Central. He played football and was on the wrestling team.

His father, Joshua Clark, announced his son’s death on Facebook writing, “As I try to write this through the tears, my only son has left this earth to be with his LORD. Parents please hug your babies every chance you get cause you never know when it will be the last time, mine was the day after Thanksgiving?”

Among the dozens responding, Dom Alberti, said he trained with Bowling.

“Bowling was a very good man. A young man younger then me that made me change my character. He was wise beyond his years and a very old soul,” Alberti wrote, adding “He was one hell of a soldier and one hell of a human being. We’re all here and hurting with you.”

Funeral services are planned for 1 p.m. Friday at Gap Hill Baptist Church. Burial with military honors will follow in the church cemetery.


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