Sailor from Wichita aboard ship docked in NY to relieve burden caused by COVID-19

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) A sailor from Wichita is on board the USNS Comfort, ready to serve at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.

Many watched Monday as the U.S. Navy ship arrived in New York City to relieve hospitals of the burden caused by COVID-19. A pair of Wichita parents watched intently, knowing their daughter is on board.

Joseph and Kowonia Bowen have been paying closer attention to the news from New York City since they found out their daughter, Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Petty Officer (MM2) Jowona Bowen, would soon arrive to help where her country needs it most.

"I had to come to terms with her being in the military and serving her country," Kowonia Bowen says of her daughter. "I think this one hit home when she texted (Monday) morning and said, 'Mom, we are in New York.'"

While in the Big Apple, Jowona Bowen will work as a cryogenic specialist, aiding with chemical production on the ship. Her parents say she is right where she needs to be.

"She has always been that type of person. So for her to be in the Navy and assigned to the U.S. Navy Ship Comfort, where she goes out and provides comfort and relief to other people, speaks exactly to who she is," Joseph Bowen says.

Jowona's parents say the military was a possibility for their daughter since she was in middle school. Six years ago, Jowona made her decision to join the Navy. In November, she returned from her next most recent deployment to South America. A conversation with her then gave her parents a new perspective.

"She said, 'mom, I don't mind going other places and helping people, but I want to help here in the United States, at home,'" Kowonia Bowen says.

Jowona's current mission givers her the chance to do so. Her parents say they've seen support for their daughter and the other men and women aboard the USNS Comfort, but they hope sharing their daughter's story will encourage others to do their part, whatever that may be.