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Fallen Officers Memorial - Line of Duty Deaths

SFC Jeanne M. Balcombe
11/8/66 to 8/21/99
55th MP Company Camp Red Cloud, Korea

This was written by SGM Joseph W. Brundy in Korea after attending SFC Jeanne Balcombe's memorial service at Camp Red Cloud on Tuesday Aug 24, 1999:

Today I attended a memorial service for SFC Jeanne M. Balcombe, 1st platoon, 55th military police company, Camp Red Cloud, Korea. I was not present because I knew her personally; I was there because a fellow noncommissioned officer had lost her life tragically. As I sat in the Balcony of the over crowded chapel and looked down at the Kevlar helmet resting on the highly polished boots, I realized that life is truly short. We never know when our last day on earth will be.

The army lost a leader the other day. If you were sitting in that chapel today you would have come to know SFC Balcombe. You would have felt the respect and love her fellow soldiers have for her. In the military we learn to deal with death and I am sure being a member of the military police corps, SFC Balcombe knew her life was on the line daily.  As I listened to soldier after soldier describe her, it became crystal clear that SFC Balcombe was a dedicated soldier and knew that losing her life for her country was the ultimate sacrifice. I left that chapel thinking this NCO was the epitome of a noncommissioned officer. She trained, loved, and respected the soldiers she was placed in charge. She held them to high standards, but never lost sight of the fact that her soldiers were human beings, thus treating them with dignity.

As I sat in that chapel I felt like I was representing noncommissioned officers all over the world. As I watched the soldiers wipe their tears away from their eyes, I wondered if I as a sergeant major did I measure up to SFC Balcombe. Had I gained my soldiers love and respect the way this platoon sergeant had? When the roll call was called and there was complete silence when SFC Jeanne Balcombe named was called three times by the First Sergeant I began to tremble. When the soldiers rose to their feet and stood rigid at attention, while taps was played I was overcome with sadness. I stood proud. I wanted SFC Balcombe to know that noncommissioned officers all over the world will miss her, but will strive to carry on her legacy. To continue to perform the most difficult job in the world, leading soldiers….

Sunday, August 22, 1999 MP in Korea arrested in killing
Monday, August 23, 1999 Bowley in U.S. military custody
Tuesday, August 24, 1999 Shooting victim, 33, identified
Wednesday, January 26, 2000 Sentencing begins for Camp Red Cloud Killer
Saturday, January 29, 2000 Husband of murdered MP testifies of loss
Saturday, January 29, 2000 U.S. soldier apologizes for killing MP in Korea
Saturday, January 29, 2000 Psychologist says killer understood his actions
Monday, January 31, 2000 Private sentenced to 56 years for murder
These are reports from the Pacific Stars and Stripes
     

Sunday, August 22, 1999

MP in Korea arrested in killing

By Ken Carter
Stripes Seoul Bureau

SEOUL - Korean National Police apprehended a U.S. Army military policeman in Pusan Saturday eight hours after he allegedly shot and killed a fellow MP at Camp Red Cloud.

Police spokesman Kim Pyung-soo said the suspect, Pfc. Jacob Bowley, of Camp Red Cloud's 55th Military Police, was apprehended at 11:40 a.m. in Pusan, approximately 280 miles south of the camp.

Bowley, 20, allegedly shot a sergeant first class from his unit at approximately 3:50 a.m. at the camp's troop medical clinic, according to a U.S. Forces Korea news release.

The victim was a woman and was shot three times, including at least once in the head, according to Yonhap, South Korea's national news agency. U.S. Forces Korea officials would not confirm the victim was a woman.

Bowley later was spotted in a branch of the Seoul Bank in Pusan, and a Korean civilian called the police.

About 20 Korean National Police from the Yeun San police station reported to the scene and apprehended the suspect. In his possession was a 9 mm pistol and 13 rounds of ammunition. He was held at the police station pending transfer to U.S. military authorities, Kim said.

Earlier Saturday, Bowley overpowered a Korean augmentee to the United States Army military police at Camp Red Cloud and took the man's weapon, a 9 mm pistol.

After allegedly shooting the sergeant first class, Bowley fled the post with the pistol in a vehicle, according to the release.

The vehicle was later discovered near Uijongbu City Hall, a little more than a mile from the base's front gate.

U.S. Forces Korea Affairs spokeswoman Lee Ferguson would not comment on details of the shooting.

The Korean soldier was transported to the 121st General Hospital at Yongsan Army Garrison in Seoul. He was to be released from the hospital Saturday afternoon, said Ferguson.

The name of the slain soldier is being withheld until notification of the next of kin.

 (Charles Rhee contributed to this report.)

Monday, August 23, 1999

Bowley in U.S. military custody

From Stripes and wire reports

SEOUL - A U.S. Army military policeman who allegedly shot and killed a fellow MP at Camp Red Cloud is in U.S. military custody, according to Associated Press reports.

Pfc. Jacob M. Bowley, 20, from the 55th Military Police Company at Camp Red Cloud, allegedly shot and killed a sergeant first class shortly before 4 a.m. Saturday before fleeing the post with a 9 mm pistol and a vehicle, according to a U.S. Forces Korea news release.

The incident triggered a nationwide manhunt by U.S. and South Korean authorities.

Unconfirmed television reports said the suspect traveled in a taxi to Itaewon, about an hour south of Camp Red Cloud near Yongsan Garrison. How he traveled to Pusan was unknown as of 2 p.m. Sunday.

South Korean police caught Bowley at 11:40 a.m. at a bank in Pusan, 200 miles southeast of Seoul.

"He didn't resist when we apprehended him. But once he was in the police car, he tried to draw his pistol from his waist and we had to control him,'' said Kim Min-ho, a police investigator in Pusan, according to AP reports. There was no immediate explanation of why the pistol was not detected and taken from the suspect when he was arrested.

Bowley admitted to having consumed large quantities of beer Friday evening, South Korean police said. They said they believe he was drunk when he allegedly shot the sergeant first class.

"We could still smell alcohol on him, but he was not drunk when we apprehended him,'' Kim said.

Bowley jerked and cursed as police tried to tie him down on a chair for questioning, South Korea's national MBC-TV reported.

The victim was a woman, according to reports from Yonhap, South Korea's national news agency.

"She took my pass away!'' Bowley shouted repeatedly.

Bowley was angry with the sergeant first class because she ordered a blood test on one of his friends in the unit to determine whether he consumed alcohol while he was off the base without permission, said Yonhap.

According to Yonhap, the woman was shot three times, including at least once in the head. She was on duty at the time, and Bowley was not, the agency said.

Bowley seized the pistol from a South Korean soldier serving in the U.S. military, the command said. The soldier, Cpl. Suh Sok-soo, was badly beaten.

When he was captured, Bowley's pistol was loaded with one cartridge. He also had two magazines with 13 cartridges, Kim said.

     

Tuesday, August 24, 1999

Shooting victim, 33, identified

By Jeremy Kirk and Ken Carter
Stripes Seoul Bureau

SEOUL - U.S. Forces Korea public affairs officials have released the name of a 33-year-old soldier fatally shot at Camp Red Cloud's troop medical clinic early Saturday.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeanne Balcombe of the 1st Platoon, 55th Military Police Company, was shot at about 3:50 a.m. and was pronounced dead at 4:40 a.m. Saturday.

Pfc. Jacob Bowley, a junior enlisted member with the same unit, is being held in connection with Balcombe's death.

Officials believe Bowley, 20, overpowered Cpl. Suh Sok-soo, a Korean Augmentee to the U.S. Army, and took his 9 mm pistol before allegedly shooting Balcombe, according to a USFK news release.

According to Korean newspaper reports, Bowley fled Camp Red Cloud after the shooting by taking a government vehicle, which he abandoned near Uijonbu City Hall, about a mile from the post's main gate.

Korean television reported Bowley went to Seoul and then took a train to Pusan.

Bowley was arrested before noon Saturday in Pusan by Korean police at a Seoul Bank branch after a civilian recognized him and called local authorities.

Korean police said Bowley had a pistol and two magazines when he was arrested, and allegedly scuffled with them. He was turned over to U.S. authorities Saturday and is being held at the 8th U.S. Army confinement facility at Camp Humphreys.

"He was ordered into pre-trial confinement by his company commander, Capt. Meredith Brice," said U.S. Forces Korea public affairs spokeswoman Lee Ferguson on Monday. "At this time, no charges have been (filed)."

USFK officials would not release Bowley's hometown.

Bowley's father, Freeman Bowley, who lives in Henniker, N.H., told The Associated Press his son was "just a wonderful kid. He loved the Army. He was having a great time."

"All I've heard was there was some kind of altercation at the base where he was at . . . and one person is dead. And it's not Jacob. And he's involved in the questioning somehow," he said.

He said his son has been serving at Camp Red Cloud since November and was planning to go into the criminal justice field after leaving the Army.

Military officials have not released specific details surrounding the incident at Camp Red Cloud, saying the situation remains under investigation.

However, Korean newspapers and television stations reported Bowley was angry with Balcombe because she allegedly recommended a blood-alcohol test for one of his friends and that she allegedly took an off-post pass from him.

The blood-alcohol test, wire reports said, was to determine whether his friend consumed alcohol under unauthorized circumstances. Korean police said Bowley was not drunk at the time of arrest but he did admit to drinking earlier Friday.

Lt. Col. Donna Boltz, 94th Military Police Battalion commander, said she believed Balcombe's quick thinking and selfless actions protected other soldiers from harm.

"Sergeant Balcombe was a respected and beloved leader in this battalion," Boltz said in a

USFK news release Monday. "She was, as always, a soldier's soldier who put the safety of others and care for her troops ahead of her personal concerns."

A memorial service is to be held at 9 this morning at the Camp Red Cloud Chapel. An additional service will be at 1 p.m. today at Yongsan Army Garrison's Main Post Chapel.

Balcombe, from McMinnville, Ore., is survived by her husband, Harvey Balcombe, and two daughters. She began her tour in Korea in April.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2000

Sentencing begins for Camp Red Cloud killer

By Jeremy Kirk
Seoul bureau chief

CAMP CASEY, South Korea - "I was in a panic," one witness testified Tuesday at the sentencing hearing for a soldier who admitted fatally shooting a military policewoman at Camp Red Cloud's medical center in August.

Other witnesses recounted grisly details during the first day of the hearing for Pfc. Jacob Bowley, who pleaded guilty last week to murdering Sgt. 1st Class Jean Balcombe. Balcombe, 33, worked for 1st Platoon, 55th Military Police Company, at Camp Red Cloud.

Capt. Edward McDaniel, officer in charge of the medical clinic, testified that Bowley silently walked into the facility on the morning of Aug. 21. Another soldier asked Bowley what he was doing, McDaniel said.

"Moments later, he reached behind his back and pulled out a weapon," McDaniel said. "He pointed it in the direction of Sgt. Balcombe and (Sgt.) Huh.

"I was screaming, 'Don't shoot, don't shoot.' "

McDaniel and Sgt. Huh Dong-pil, a Korean soldier assigned to the 168th Medical Battalion, heard three shots. Huh, who said he was within two arms' lengths of Balcombe, escaped into a nearby room.

"The situation was very bad and dangerous," Huh said. "I was in a panic."

Blood seeped under a door in the room where he hid, Huh said. After two more gunshots, he said he heard a "gurgling" sound and Balcombe's breathing.

After Bowley fled, Huh said he helped McDaniel move Balcombe to another room and resuscitate her. Later, McDaniel pronounced her dead.

The incident shook McDaniel, who said he still has problems sleeping. "I feel the clinic is a place where people come to get help," McDaniel said. "I lost a sense of security."

Shortly before the shooting, Balcombe had caught Bowley, 20, drinking with an underage soldier. Balcombe took the second soldier to the medical clinic for a blood alcohol test.

Meanwhile, Bowley overpowered a Korean soldier assigned to a U.S. unit at the camp, taking his 9 mm handgun and heading to the medical clinic.

After the shooting, Bowley, who also worked for the 55th Military Police Company, took an MP vehicle and left the camp, brandishing the gun at two soldiers at the main gate.

The vehicle was found a short time later near Uijongbu City Hall, about a mile from the post. Bowley was arrested by Korean police later in the day at a bank in Pusan.

Bowley also pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, desertion, larceny, wrongful appropriation, carrying a concealed weapon and disobeying an order of a noncommissioned officer.

Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a murder conviction can carry the death penalty, but the decision is at the commander's discretion. The Second Infantry Division's Maj. Robert F. Dees did not recommend the death penalty, judge advocate general officials said.

No servicemembers have been executed since 1962, although nine are on death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Witnesses at the hearing described Balcombe as a caring woman who took care of her soldiers. Balcombe, of McMinnville, Ore., was married and had two children.

"She was an excellent leader," testified Sgt. Archie Garmer. "She took the time to teach me."

"I don't think you could ask any more of an NCO for what she did for her soldiers," said Cpl. Clinton Nava, also of Balcombe's company.

     
Thursday, January 27, 2000

Husband of murdered MP testifies of loss

By Jeremy Kirk
Seoul bureau chief


CAMP CASEY, South Korea - With tears in his eyes, Retired Sgt. 1st Class Michael Balcombe tearfully held a family photo as he sat on the witness stand Wednesday during a sentencing hearing for his wife's killer.

"This picture shows what she loved most - being a soldier and being with her family," Balcombe said.

His wife, Sgt. 1st Class Jeanne Balcombe, 32, of the 55th Military Police Company, was fatally shot Aug. 21 at the medical clinic at Camp Red Cloud.

Pfc. Jacob Bowley, 20, of the same MP company, faces life in prison without parole for her murder. He pleaded guilty to the crime last week.

During his testimony, Balcombe described his wife's career, the birth of their children and how the two were saving money so she could visit him and their two daughters in McMinnville, Ore.

His wife was promoted while on the unaccompanied tour in Korea, Balcombe said. But the first time he saw her new stripe was "in her casket," he said.

"She told me she loved the job as platoon sergeant," Balcombe said. "Jeanne loved soldiers. She never said anything bad about anybody."

The day his wife was killed, Balcombe returned from work and immediately turned on his computer to see if she had e-mailed him. Her message that day was simple: "I love you."

Four hours later, Balcombe opened his door to see a chaplain and a soldier.

"I remember I said 'Oh no,' " Balcombe said. "It's hard to describe (his reaction) - I just wanted to lay down and die."

Balcombe said his 7-year-old and 13-year-old daughters "miss their mother terribly" and have endured stress. As for himself, Balcombe said he has been greatly disturbed.

"More than just being my wife, she was my best and closest friend I've ever had," Balcombe said. "I've got my girls, and other than that, I've got nothing. I've lost the best thing that ever happened to me."

Jeanne Balcombe was posthumously awarded the Soldier's Medal - given to soldiers who die during the line of duty but not in combat.

The night she was killed, Balcombe had caught Bowley and another underage soldier drinking. Balcombe took a four-day leave pass from Bowley and took the other soldier to the clinic for a blood-alcohol test.

Meanwhile, Bowley overpowered a Korean MP, taking his gun. Bowley went to the clinic with the 9 mm weapon and fired three rounds before fleeing. Soldiers who testified Wednesday said Bowley highly valued the pass.

Bowley fled in a military police truck, ditching it at Uijongbu City Hall, about a mile from the post. He was caught later the same day by Korean police in Pusan, on Korea's southern coast.

In addition to murder, Bowley also pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, desertion, larceny, wrongful appropriation, carrying a concealed weapon and disobeying an order of a noncommissioned officer.

Saturday, January 29, 2000

U.S. soldier apologizes for killing MP in Korea

By Jeremy Kirk
Seoul bureau chief


CAMP CASEY, South Korea - Pfc. Jacob Bowley testified at his sentencing hearing Friday that he wished he could "erase this nightmare" begun when he fatally shot a military policewoman in a fit of rage.

"I wish I could stop the suffering I've caused, but there's no going back," said Bowley, who pleaded guilty last week to murder in the Aug. 21 shooting of Sgt. 1st Class Jeanne Balcombe, 32, of the 55th Military Police Company at Camp Red Cloud, South Korea.

"All I can do is say that I'm sorry, but that will never be enough."

Bowley made the statements during unsworn testimony, meaning he could not be questioned by government prosecutors.

Unsworn statements carry less weight in court during deliberations.

Bowley said he wishes he knew why he took a gun into the medical clinic at Red Cloud and shot Balcombe to death. Balcombe belonged to the same unit as Bowley.

"I shot an MP," Bowley said. "I shot my platoon sergeant. I have to live knowing that I could do something like that."

Bowley said he had a drinking problem, and alcohol "was pretty much the only way I could find to release (tension)." He said he tried to enroll in a treatment program, but that noncommissioned officers in his company wouldn't let him. As a result, his drinking continued, Bowley said.

Reading from two prepared statements, Bowley apologized to the slain woman's husband, Michael Balcombe, who flew from McMinnville, Ore., to attend the sentencing. But Bowley said he felt he could someday become a productive member of society.

"Still, I beg for mercy," Bowley said to Col. Ronald White, the military judge. "I ask that I have another chance for life. Sir, I ask you to give me that chance."

Bowley could face life in prison without parole at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice murder can carry the death penalty, but the decision is at the commander's discretion. The Second Infantry Division's commander, Maj. Gen. Robert F. Dees, did not recommend the death penalty, judge advocate general officers said.

Bowley's parents testified their son was a quiet boy who was not easily provoked while growing up.

"They (the months since the murder) have been a nightmare, knowing my son has been involved in the situation," said Freeman Bowley, the soldier's father.

The night she was killed, Balcombe caught Bowley and another underage soldier drinking. Balcombe confiscated Bowley's four-day leave pass and took the other soldier to the clinic for a blood-alcohol test.

Soldiers who knew Bowley testified earlier in the week that the time off was important to him.

After beating up a Korean MP and taking his 9 mm handgun, Bowley went to the clinic. After a soldier in the clinic asked him why he was there, Bowley shot Balcombe three times.

After the murder, Bowley fled in a military police truck, ditching it at Uijongbu City Hall, about a mile from the post. He was caught later the same day by Korean police in Pusan, on Korea's southern coast.

In addition to murder, Bowley also pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, desertion, larceny, wrongful appropriation, carrying a concealed weapon and disobeying an order of a noncommissioned officer.

     
Saturday, January 29, 2000

Psychologist says killer understood his actions

By Jeremy Kirk
Seoul bureau chief


CAMP CASEY, South Korea - A Navy psychologist testified Thursday that convicted murderer Pfc. Jacob Bowley knew the difference between right and wrong the night he fatally shot a military policewoman.

During Bowley's sentencing hearing here, Lt. Drew Messer testified that Bowley understood his actions when he killed Sgt. 1st Class Jeanne Balcombe, beat up a Korean soldier and punched another Korean.

Bowley pleaded guilty last week to murder in the Aug. 21 shooting of Balcombe, 32, of the 55th Military Police Company at Camp Red Cloud. He could face life in prison without parole.

He also pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, desertion, larceny, wrongful appropriation, carrying a concealed weapon and disobeying an order of a noncommissioned officer.

During Thursday's testimony, Messer said the 20-year-old Bowley had trouble adjusting to life in Korea and used alcohol to cope.

Bowley has "a lot of shame and embarrassment over what he has done," Messer said. The former MP could be rehabilitated with the help of mental health professionals, Messer said. He rated Bowley's threat to society as "low."

Other testimony Thursday came from numerous people who knew Bowley from his hometown of Hillsboro, N.H. All said they were shocked to learn of the murder, many describing Bowley as a "teddy bear" and a "gentle giant."

On the night Balcombe was killed, she caught Bowley and another underage soldier drinking. Balcombe took away a four-day leave pass from Bowley and made the other soldier submit to a blood-alcohol test.

Messer testified that Bowley was angry the pass was taken away that night.

Balcombe was with the other soldier at Camp Red Cloud's medical clinic when Bowley entered with a 9 mm handgun. Bowley obtained the weapon after assaulting a Korean soldier.

After shooting Balcombe three times, Bowley fled in a government vehicle, which was later found about a mile from post. Bowley was arrested by Korean police in Pusan later that day.

Monday, January 31, 2000

Private sentenced to 56 years for murder

By Jeremy Kirk
Seoul bureau chief


CAMP CASEY, South Korea - Pfc. Jacob Bowley, who admitted fatally shooting his platoon sergeant in Camp Red Cloud's medical clinic last August, was sentenced Saturday to 56 years in prison.

Military judge Col. Ronald White deliberated about two hours before handing down the sentence. Bowley, who turned 21 Sunday, also was demoted to an E-1 private, dishonorably discharged and will forfeit any pay.

Bowley pleaded guilty Jan. 13 to killing Sgt. 1st Class Jeanne Balcombe, 32. Bowley was in the 55th Military Police Company, the same unit as Balcombe.

Government prosecutor Maj. Matthew A. Myers Sr. asked White to sentence Bowley to life in prison without a chance for parole. Bowley's extraordinary violence justified a severe sentence, Myers said.

"Pfc. Bowley has shown the world what he is capable of doing," Myers said. "This killer must stay confined."

The last vision Balcombe had was of Bowley aiming a gun at her face, Myers said. Her last words - "Bowley, no!" -were a plea of mercy to stop the violence, Myers said.

"He (Bowley) looked in her eyes," Myers said. "He aimed the weapon at her."

During her closing statement, defense attorney Capt. Donna Hansen said Bowley's guilty plea showed he had taken responsibility for his actions. In asking for a 10-year sentence, Hansen said Bowley had the potential for rehabilitation.

"What Jacob Morgan Bowley did is wrong, but he is not evil," Hansen said. "Punishment is a must, but the degree of punishment must be tempered."

Heavy drinking and difficult duty in Korea put stress on Bowley, Hansen said. The murder represented "an aberration to the real Jacob Bowley," she said.

Myers disagreed.

"The real Pfc. Bowley is a brutal murderer sitting here in the courtroom," Myers said.

In prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., Bowley could get 10 days deducted from his sentence each month for good behavior. He will be eligible for his first parole hearing in 10 years.

The murder shocked soldiers in Korea, and hundreds turned out for Balcombe's memorial service last August at Yongsan Garrrison in Seoul. Balcombe was posthumously awarded the Soldier's Medal, the highest peacetime award for valor.

Balcombe was shot after Bowley entered the medical clinic with a 9 mm handgun. Earlier the same night, Balcombe had caught Bowley and another underage soldier drinking.

Balcombe confiscated a four-day leave pass from Bowley. After Balcombe took the other soldier to the medical clinic for a blood alcohol test, Bowley arrived with the handgun.

The gun came from a Korean MP whom Bowley kicked in the head repeatedly. After shooting Balcombe, Bowley fled in a military police truck, leaving it about a mile from post.

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