Army Pfc. Rowan D. Walter, 25, Clovis; among 3 killed by roadside bomb
By Amanda Covarrubias
Times Staff Writer
March 11, 2007
As a student at Buchanan High School in Clovis, Calif., Rowan Dale Walter would attend classes with uncombed hair and out-of-date clothes. But he had a gift for learning foreign languages and excelled in chemistry.
By all accounts, he was a popular student, and among his friends, he was the one everyone gravitated toward.
The 25-year-old Army private first class was the fourth graduate of Buchanan High to be killed in the Iraq war.
He died Feb. 23 of injuries suffered a day earlier when a roadside bomb exploded in an ambush attack in Ramadi, west of Baghdad. He had left his tank to help soldiers in an earlier attack.
Also killed were Army Staff Sgt. Joshua R. Hager, 29, of Broomfield, Colo., and Pfc. Travis W. Buford, 23, of Galveston, Texas.
They were all assigned to the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division at Ft. Carson, Colo.
During Walter's funeral Monday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Clovis, a religion teacher recalled a time when Walter, then in high school, stood to give his testimony, which evolved into telling of his love of spring.
"He gave this outpouring of love for spring, for flowers and sunshine," Elaine Soldani was quoted as saying in the Fresno Bee.
"Then he stopped, he put his head in his hands for a moment, looked up and said, 'I sound just like my mother!' "
After graduating from high school in 2001, Walter went on a two-year church mission to Europe, learning French in a few weeks, said his father, Bryan, a businessman in Clovis, who spoke at the funeral.
In Switzerland, Rowan Walter taught a man who spoke only Italian and Chinese to speak French, and the man taught him Chinese, Walter's father said. In Iraq, Walter was learning Arabic.
After his church mission, Walter attended community college in Provo, Utah, where he found that he liked theater. He decided to become an actor and moved to Los Angeles, where he lived in the San Fernando Valley community of Winnetka.
In Los Angeles, he met his future wife, Priscilla.
Walter's mother, Adele, said her son joined the Army because he wanted to serve his country and "fight for freedom wherever that is being waged."
"That is the fact," she said, adding that she was too emotionally exhausted to talk much about her son.
"Our family supports those two things. He went in an honorable and heroic way into the next world. He has a continuing mission to fulfill there."
Soon after joining the Army, Walter became a platoon leader, then a medic. He and Priscilla were married in December 2005 while he was on leave from medic training in San Antonio.
He was deployed to Iraq in October.
At the end of his funeral, two military commanders presented Walter's parents and widow with two posthumous awards, a Bronze Star for valor and a Purple Heart for injuries.
In addition to his parents and widow, Walter is survived by his brother, Rome; and sisters Hailey Cohen and Hanni White.
Copyright 2007 Los Angeles Times