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Army Master Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy

Died March 23, 2003 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

38, of Cleveland; assigned to 507th Maintenance Company, Fort Bliss, Texas; killed in an ambush near Nasiriyah, Iraq.

Robert Dowdy at age 38 was an old-timer to many of his soldiers. The master sergeant had a teenage daughter in Louisiana and was two years shy of retirement.

But he could run circles around most of the youngsters in his outfit.

An avid distance runner, Dowdy kept in top shape. Last year, he ran a 10K race in 41 minutes, 21 seconds. “He would come across the line with very high spirits,” said Chris Rowley, a competitor in local races.

Dowdy’s home was in DeRidder, La., with his wife, Cathy, and their daughter. His parents live in Cleveland.

He enlisted in the Army shortly after graduating from Cleveland South High School in 1982, following his older brother, Jack.

His brother last heard from Dowdy through e-mail.

“I can tell you that he was a very patriotic and very loyal man who loved his country,” Jack Dowdy Jr. said.

“To my knowledge, he just wanted to serve his country to the best of his ability before he retired.”

— USA Today and The Associated Press

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