WASHINGTON D.C. (WLFI) - Heel taps are a simple task for many adults, but for 23-year-old Marine Cpl. Mathew Bowman who is learning to walk again on two prosthetic legs, it takes a lot of pain and sweat, but you won't see tears. He keeps the frustration of what the war in Afghanistan has done to him to himself.
"I really don't think anybody understands," said Bowman's wife Paige Bowman. "I sometimes don't think I understand their thoughts, their focus, their goals. It differs from person to person. It has to be extremely hard on them."
Bowman's spirit is his secret weapon.
"He's cutting jokes still. Talking about people stepping on his feet," said Mathew Bowman's father Ken Bowman.
It would be understandable for Mathew Bowman to feel sorry for himself, but he does just the opposite.
"It's pretty easy on me now," he said. "I've got my family here. I couldn't ask for anything more."
That attitude and determination seems to be contagious.
"Matt is one of those guys that can see another soldier or another Marine who needs a little bit of a boost. Matt is really good at pulling them in and pulling them up. There is a handful of guys in the clinic like that and he is one of them," said Clinical Supervisor for Physical Therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center Bo Bergeron.
Mathew Bowman said the war didn't take anything away from him, especially what's most important to him: his family.
"They (sons Jayce and Brett) love Daddy," Paige Bowman said. "They treat him like he doesn't have any boo boos. They play. They jump on him and climb on him."
Even after it all - the horror he saw in Afghanistan, the IED bomb that changed his life, the pain, the physical therapy and the struggles he now faces - Mathew Bowman said he doesn't regret his decision to join the Marines. He said it is all worth it.
"I love my country and I love the Marine Corps," he said. "I wouldn't have a few things if I wouldn't have joined. I wouldn't have my wife and I wouldn't have my two little boys. We went to Afghanistan to do our job. That is what Marines do. We go over there and we do our job."
Bowman hopes to have a new job once he learns to walk again.
"We definitely want to move back to be closer to family," Mathew Bowman said. "My wife wants to go back to school to be a nurse. I want to get into law enforcement."
So Bowman will continue on his road to recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. until he is able to walk and run again. After all, he has to be able to chase the bad guys again.
Mathew Bowman said there are people in the Greater Lafayette community who will be building his family a house. He said it could be up to a year and a half before he is able to come home. It all depends on how his body handles advancements on his prosthetic legs.
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