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Veterans find each other through BMCC veterans’ breakfast

Kathy Aney

East Oregonian

Published on November 9, 2018 8:23PM

Dave Bowman and Dave Gawf pose with flags Friday at the BMCC Veterans’ Breakfast.

Staff photo by Kathy Aney

Dave Bowman and Dave Gawf pose with flags Friday at the BMCC Veterans’ Breakfast.

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Two Vietnam-era veterans who served in Guam in the 1970s connected two years ago thanks to the annual Blue Mountain Community College Veterans Breakfast.

Dave Bowman and Dave Gawf devoured pancakes, bacon and eggs Friday morning at the BMCC commons before they told their tale. Both had worked as Navy corpsmen at the U.S. Naval Hospital on Guam in the early ’70s and even slept in the same barracks, but don’t remember each other from that time. In the early ’80s, both moved to Pendleton. Bowman worked as a veterinarian at the Pendleton Animal Hospital. Gawf eventually started a construction company. Each remained oblivious to the other’s presence.

“In Guam, he was a surgery tech and I was an orthopedic tech,” Bowman said. “We never met each other, but we served at the same time. We’ve lived in Pendleton most of our adult lives.”

During the 2016 BMCC veterans’ breakfast, a mutual friend of both, Joe Zoske, chatted with Gawf and learned more about his service. Zoske mentioned the encounter to Bowman, and that Gawf served in Guam at the same time as Bowman.

Gawf and Bowman connected 20 minutes later.

“My wife and I left church and went to Denny’s,” said Bowman.

The couple sat down at the counter. A man, who turned out to be Gawf, sat down next to them.

“He stuck his hand out and said, ‘I’m Dave Gawf.’ It was a total coincidence.”

They reminisced about life in Guam. Gawf later sent Bowman a faded photo of their cars parked next to one another in the hospital parking lot —- both black Volkswagons.

“The more we talked, the more commonalities we found,” Gawf said.

The two had also both owned Oldsmobile F-85s in high school. They also realized they had played football in Guam on different teams. Once Gawf, a kicker, suffered an ankle injury and received treatment at the hospital. The men’s teams were set to play each other the next week.

“I had gotten injured and the doctor he worked with took care of me,” Gawf said.

“I reported to our coach that their kicker was down,” Bowman said, grinning at Gawf.

“It must have been him.”

The two now share a tight friendship.

“We’ve become close friends over the two years,” Bowman said. “We get together for dinners. Tonight, we’re going to the football game together.”

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Contact Kathy Aney at kaney@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0810.



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