Father and son veterans battle COVID-19 together in South Carolina
Thursday, May 28, 2020
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Thomas Bowman Jr. said in early April he began feeling under the weather.
He originally thought it was his chronic sinusitis acting up. But on April 5, he began feeling worse and his symptoms were getting severe.
“The symptoms of COVID-19 had begun forming in my lungs. Headaches. Shortness of breath,” he said.
Bowman Jr. -- a Marine Corps veteran -- was admitted to the VA Hospital in Columbia. Bowman had pneumonia in his lungs and a high fever. He tested positive for COVID-19.
When he was talking with doctors, he remembered he had visited his mother and father a few days before he started to feel ill.
“Bowman Jr. had recently cut his own grass and his mother and father’s grass. He was very concerned they could possibly contract this illness,” Dr. Amy Lucas at the VA Hospital in Columbia said.
Bowman Jr. followed his father’s footsteps when he joined the United States Marine Corps. Now Thomas Bowman Sr., a Vietnam War veteran, followed his son’s footsteps when he also tested positive for COVID-19 and found himself hospitalized.
Despite being considered more at risk for severe illness from the disease, Bowman Sr. said he was confident he was going to walk out of the hospital with his son.
“Back in the Marine Corps we always said, ‘If he can do it and she can do it -- I can do it,’” he said. “If my son can do it, I can do it. If the other vets can do it, I can do it.”
While in the hospital, Bowman Sr.'s condition did worsen, but he stayed strong.
He and his son were able to check up on each other with the help of doctors and nurses at the VA. That kept them both going.
Dr. James Gasque helped treat Bowman Sr.
“Despite their fears -- courage was displayed in every aspect,” Gasque said.
After a few weeks and around-the-clock care from the VA, they both began improving.
“It was almost like we both went to war together and we met back up after the war,” Bowman Jr. said.
Bowman Sr. said working together -- like he did when he was in the military -- is the best way to fight the disease. He said he was able to recover with the help of his family, the health care workers and God.
“You make sure you have to cover your flank,” he said.
Both men have been released from the hospital and have made full recoveries.
According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control, as of May 25, more than 6,000 COVID-19 patients have recovered in South Carolina.