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Widow, mother-to-be says goodbye to fallen soldier

By MARY SPICUZZA
Published April 7, 2006


[Times photo: Brendan Fitterer]
Marcy Rowe (mom), Megan Rowe (sister), Rebecca Rowe (widow) and her best friend at right, Sholae Shirazi, 23, grieve while the casket carrying Michael Rowe is placed in the hearse after his funeral at Living Word church in New Port Richey on Friday.

NEW PORT RICHEY - The widow, nearly seven months pregnant, laid a red rose at the grave marker.

The ceremony was over.

But after she was led away to a waiting car, Rebecca Rowe returned.

Silently, she carried a small bunch of roses to her husband's coffin. She stood there for several minutes to say goodbye.

Sgt. Michael Rowe will never meet their daughter, Nevaeh Elizabeth, who is due in July.

Rowe, 23, was killed March 28 when an explosive device detonated near his Humvee as he led an Army convoy in Rutbah, Iraq.

He would have turned 24 the next day.

Hundreds gathered Friday at Living Word Church in New Port Richey to pay tribute to Rowe, a sergeant in the 46th Engineer Battalion, Warrior Brigade, based in Fort Polk, La.

He was described as a hero, a patriot, a devoted believer.

The family asked that the song Arlington be played in his memory.

It ended, Dust to dust, don't cry for us, we made it to Arlington .

Jennifer Folds, who is married to one of Rowe's soldiers in Iraq, spoke of the New Port Richey man as a sergeant whose

"love for his soldiers was unconditional."

She told of Rowe's passion for music, his excitement about becoming a father, and his deep love for his wife.

"She was his universe," Folds said.

His mother, Marcy Rowe, read one of her son's many poems.

It spoke of a beautiful heaven where angels fly .

After the service, the funeral procession continued to Florida National Cemetery near Bushnell for a burial with full military honors.

His father, Vietnam War veteran Dave Rowe, led about 140 motorcycles driven by the Patriot Guard Riders into the cemetery.

The Patriot Guard Riders is a group that comes together when invited by a family to show respect for "fallen heroes, their families, and their communities" and to "shield the mourning family and friends from interruptions created by any protester or group of protesters," its Web site reads.

There were no protesters at Rowe's funeral or burial.

At the burial, the Rowe family was presented with a purple heart and bronze star.

Members of the active duty honor guard from Rowe's brigade out of Fort Polk participated in the ceremony, which included a gun salute.

His body is being buried in Section 402 of Florida National Cemetery with other soldiers who served in Iraq.

His grave marker begins with his name: Michael David Rowe.

It ends with an inscription: "He lived with honor."

Mary Spicuzza can be reached in west Pasco at 727 869-6241 or mspicuzza@sptimes.com

[Last modified April 7, 2006, 21:49:27]


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