Rev. Dr. Myrtle Bowen, Presiding Elder of the Harrisburg District of the Philadelphia/Baltimore Conference, is the first African American Woman Chaplain to be promoted to the rank of Colonel in the United States Air National Guard since its inception 71 years ago. Additionally, Col. Bowen is the third African American Woman Chaplain in the history of the Air Force.
Brigadier General Jeffrey Bozard, 113th Air National Guard Wing commander, hosted Chaplain, Colonel Myrtle Bowen’s promotion ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base August 3, 2018. Bowen also received her third Meritorious Service Medal for outstanding service in her leadership as Wing Chaplain for the District of Columbia Air National Guard.
During her promotion ceremony, Rev. Dr Gordon Ray Coleman, her father in the ministry, pinned Col. Bowen with the military cover with eagle wings. Both Brig. Gen. Earnest Talbert, (Ret.), former Commander 166th Wing and mentor, and Bishop Warren Matthew Brown (Ret.), former Presiding Prelate and mentor, pinned Chaplain Myrtle Bowen’s service jacket. Other participants included Mrs. Aurelia Sanders Brown, her former Missionary Supervisor, Mrs. Melissa Woodyard (sister) and Mr. Walter Eugene Bowen, Sr., (father) who pinned Chaplain Bowen’s blouse with full bird eagles wings.
Prior to her promotion, Col. Bowen served as the Wing Chaplain for 1,200 Airmen in the District of Columbia, Air National Guard, and Joint Base Andrews. During her tenure, Col. Bowen directed and conducted numerous Strong Bonds events, providing critical resiliency support to over 3,000 Airmen. Most notably, Col. Bowen was honored with the 113th Wing the 2015 National Guard Best Base Installation Award. She provided critical, mission essential leadership in support for the 56th, 57th and 58th Presidential Inaugurations. Her organization and leadership of the in-processing, lodging, and transportation of over 500 Chaplains and 7,000 military personnel resulted in her being awarded the Joint Service Achievement Medal.
On May 1, 2018, Col. Bowen was selected as the Air National Guard Assistant to the Command Chaplain, Africa Command. Some of her duties and responsibilities include advising the Command Chaplain and the Command Chaplains’ staff on al NG matters for over 122,000 military personnel. Advise and assist the Director, National Guard Bureau Chaplain Corps on all matters of policy, programs operations and utilization of the NG chaplain community and this community’s interface with command programs in Stuttgart, Germany. Review proposals and make recommendations to the Command Chaplain on matters of policy, programs, operations and utilization of the National Guard Chaplain community and this community’s interface with USAF and USAR programs. Prepares briefings, reports and special projects to support Africa Command mission requirements and to promote unity of effort between Africa Command Chaplain Corps and Air National Guard Chaplain Corps. Serves as the State Partnership Program (SPP) Coordinator on behalf of the Command Chaplain, by becoming the subject matter expert (SME) on the Department of Defense, National Guard Bureau, Headquarters United States AFRICOM SPP program as it is implemented at Headquarters United States AFRICOM. As the SPP Coordinator strengthen partner networks with Cameroon and Rwanda, Botswana and North Carolina, Ghana/Togo and North Dakota, Kenya and Massachusetts, Liberia and Michigan, Morocco and Utah, Niger and Indiana, Nigeria and California, Senegal and Vermont, South Africa and New York, Tunisia and Wyoming.
Ch. Bowen is humbled for the opportunity to serve both God and country as she represents the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Bowen thanks her church family for their continuous prayers and support as she provides spiritual leadership to 122,000 military personnel spread across the world.
To God be all the glory, honor and praise!