Balloon released in Marine's memory is returned to mother - News, Weather & Sports

Balloon released in Marine's memory is returned to mother

Theresa Bowles-Schweizer and John Schweizer holding the balloon. Theresa Bowles-Schweizer and John Schweizer holding the balloon.
Larry Umbarger Larry Umbarger
Brandon Bowles Brandon Bowles
Theresa Bowles-Schweizer Theresa Bowles-Schweizer

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – A lot of people release balloons in the sky for a lot of different reasons. This year, a mother of a Marine did just that to remember her son who was tragically killed.

In 2012, WAVE 3 first interviewed Theresa Bowles-Schweizer when she was raising money for her son's funeral. He was killed in a car accident in March of 2012 after returning home from two tours overseas.

One year after he died, she wanted to do something special never knowing it would turn out like this. 

It's the simple messages like 'I love you' and 'Rest in Peace,' Bowles-Schweizer wanted her son to see. 

March 14 marked one year since, Marine Cpl. Brandon Bowles passed away. It was on that date this year Theresa and her family released balloons and watched as they disappeared in the sky.

"I mean I had kind of put it out of my mind that I had sent the balloon up, I mean it was something that was just for me, it was personal," said Bowles-Schweizer. 

She never could have guessed just where one balloon would end up. "I walked up on this balloon lying on the ground and I had seen "Semper Fi" on it and I knew it was a Marine's balloon, or I knew it belonged to an ex-marine, because I'm a marine myself," said Larry Umbarger of Groseclose, Virginia. 

Two months later and nearly 400 miles away, Umbarger found the deflated silver balloon near some trees on his farm. 

"I just could not believe it," said Umbarger. "I mean, nobody can, I told this story all over."

He knew he wanted to make sure it got back, but there was no contact information just Brandon's name and the personal messages.

"I don't have a computer and I got a hold of my two daughters and they got on the computer and we found Theresa," said Umbarger.

With the help of Facebook, these families were instantly connected. "I couldn't talk to her without crying and Marines don't cry, but yes they do," said Umbarger.

Larry mailed back the balloon with a special note and it arrived at Bowles-Schweizer's house the day before Mother's day.

"Brandon's still with us and wanted to make sure that his mama had a special message for Mother's Day," said John Schweizer, Theresa's husband.

"Having it back has just filled me with so much love and joy," said Bowles-Schweizer. 

Never imagining something so simple would touch two families in such an unique way. "It was a beautiful thing," said Bowles-Schweizer. 

From one Marine to the other, there's no doubt in her mind, her son is watching over her.

"It's like a bit of my son came back," said Bowles-Schweizer.

Umbarger said this has become quite a talker in his small town in southwest Virginia. 

Both families plan to keep in touch and Bowles-Schweizer said next year she plans to release balloons again in her son's memory, because you never know where they just might end up. 
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