Dream Foundation to Fulfill Terminal Navy Veteran’s Final Wish to Revisit Battleship He Served on During Korean War
Santa Barbara, CA – Dream Foundation – the first and largest national wish-granting organization for adults and their families suffering life-threatening illness – will fulfill Gerald Bowman’s dream to walk the decks of the battleship he called home during the Korean War—60 years since his last tour.
With a prognosis of less than one year due to advanced stage heart disease, Bowman, an 82-year- old Elkins, Arkansas resident and Korean War Veteran will take his daughter – also his consummate caregiver – on a momentous journey through history. Together they’ll travel to Mount Pleasant, South Carolina to board the (DD-724) Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer where Bowman served as Machinist Mate for more than three years. The pair will receive a private tour and luncheon, as well as the opportunity to meet with the press and record an oral history ￼interview, which will be archived at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum for future generations. The USS Laffey is now a National Historic Landmark ship.
At 10 a.m., Friday, March 1, Bowman and his daughter will arrive at Patriots Point, where he’ll receive a warm welcome and participate in the following activities:
• 10:15 a.m. – Meet the acquaintance of his “Dream Hosts” for the day: Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum Public Information Officer, Ashley Smith; Patriots Point volunteer, Edgar “Hoot” Gibson, a fellow Tin Can Sailor and former crewmember aboard the USS Rich; Hardee’s® Regional Vice President, Steve Hallman; and Hardee’s® Human Resources Manager and Vietnam Veteran, Mickey Church.
• 10:30 a.m. – Board the USS Laffey and walk the decks uninterrupted. Proceed to dedicated interview area to meet with members of the press.
• 11:00 a.m. – Receive a special VIP tour of the USS Laffey, including the working and living spaces where he spent time as a crewmember.
• 12:00 p.m. – Enjoy a special private luncheon aboard the ship.
• 12:45 p.m. – Record an oral history interview.
Dream Foundation will be providing airfare for Bowman and his daughter from Fort Smith, AR to Charleston, SC, as well as financial assistance for their five-day stay. The Hampton Inn Mt. Pleasant-Patriots Point has generously donated hotel accommodations.
“We were recently watching a television special about Dad’s naval ship, the USS Laffey, and how they were docking her at Patriots Point,” Bowman’s daughter, Kim Billings, writes in an application letter to Dream Foundation. “He became so excited and started telling me stories and ￼said, ‘Oh how I would love to walk her again.’ He told me he could even show me which top bunk was his.”
According to Dream Foundation spokesperson, Erinn Lynch, “Truly, it is an honor for us to serve those who have so bravely served our country. Mr. Bowman’s final wish is a testament to his patriotism and sense of duty. We are proud to share this momentous occasion with Hardee’s® and our national dream host volunteers.”
Bowman had served in the United States Navy from 1950-1954. Upon being recruited, he reported to San Diego, where the USS Laffey sat in a dry dock shipyard and his task was to assist in repairing the damage it had sustained during World War II. Two months later, he accompanied the battleship out to sea, where his service included three tours in Korea.
“Part of our mission at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum is to honor the brave men and women who have answered our nation’s call—heroes like Mr. Bowman,” said Patriots Point Executive Director, Mac Burdette. “Through our efforts each day, we are working to educate visitors about the service and sacrifice of our veterans and we are keeping their stories alive. It is our distinct honor to welcome Mr. Bowman back aboard his beloved ship, the USS Laffey; and we are proud to partner with Dream Foundation and the Stars for HeroesTM program in this endeavor.”
As Dream Foundation serves the final wishes of adults nationwide from one small office in Santa Barbara, the organization works with its corporate “Partners in Dreams” and affiliated volunteers to ensure dream experiences maintain a personal touch and sense of community. CKE Restaurants, Inc.—parent company of Carol’s Jr.® and Hardee’s® brands—has been a longtime partner with Dream Foundation and pledges additional support to serve the final dreams of U.S. veterans as part of their Stars for HeroesTM campaign.
“As part of our ongoing effort to support a cause that is important to our customers, employees and franchisees, it’s our pleasure to partner with Dream Foundation through our Stars for
￼HeroesTM fundraising campaign to help rally behind our nation’s veterans and fulfill their final dreams,” said Jenna Petroff, public relations and social media manager for Hardee’s® and Stars for HeroesTM program administrator. “We’re honored Dream Foundation chose us to present Gerald with his dream package at his home in Arkansas, as well as accompany him on his tour of the USS Laffey. Our franchisees and employees are excited to celebrate this dream with him.”
According to Dream Foundation, the CKE Restaurants, Inc. partnership not only helps fund the veteran segment of their dream service demographic, it enhances the experience for the dreamer and all who are involved.