Posted by Steve Lettau on Mar 07, 2023

By Bryan Smith

Break, break Bulldog-6, Bulldog-6. Where are you?

Bulldog-6, come in Bulldog-6

Bulldog-6 ... Come in

Bulldog ...

Tom ...

The family of Jacob Lowell had arrived early. They milled about for a while and then sat on the folding chairs they had arranged at the edge of a vast expanse of grass. Spread before them, in precisely laid-out rows, stretched a landscape of identically shaped headstones, bone white against the green. More people arrived: in jeans and garrison hats, in ball caps with crossed rifles stitched in gold, and in T-shirts bearing slogans like, "Remember Our Fallen Heroes." They shook hands and embraced, sometimes weeping, sometimes chatting, sometimes simply standing in silence before one of the many markers casting slanted shadows under a mostly cloudless sky.

They had been told to be at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois, at 1 p.m., and now, the hour having arrived, they turn their gaze down a long driveway. There they spot the man for whom they have been waiting. Gripping the handlebars of his custom-painted Specialized Aethos Pro bike, he coasts the last couple of hundred yards to where the people have gathered.

Fifteen years earlier, Private First Class Jacob Lowell, 22, had been on patrol in Gowhardesh, Afghanistan, when insurgents fired a rocket-propelled grenade into his Humvee. When he and the other members in his squad jumped out to return fire, a bullet ripped into his leg, spraying blood and muscle. Despite that, Lowell managed to climb back into the Humvee, heave himself into the vehicle's turret, and seize the twin handles of the mounted .50-caliber machine gun. He was blasting the attackers when a second, fatal shot hit him in the chest. He died 2 June 2007, only a few days after the arrival of the new commander, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Kolenda, the man now stepping off his bike at the Illinois cemetery.