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Army Staff Sgt. James D. Mowris

Died January 29, 2004 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

37, of Aurora Mo.; assigned to 805th Military Police Company, Army Reserve, Raleigh, N.C.; killed when a weapons cache exploded Jan. 29, 2004, in Afghanistan.

New playground named for fallen soldier

Associated Press

AURORA, Mo. — A playground has been dedicated in honor of a soldier killed last year in Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. James Douglas Mowris, 37, was one of seven soldiers killed Jan. 29, 2004, in an explosion at a weapons cache southwest of Kabul. The playground was dedicated Thursday, although the equipment arrived in April and children have played there for two months, said Richard Shoemaker, Aurora parks director.

Memories of the Aurora man now live on at a playground near the softball field where he used to play shortstop. Children sail upward on swings, climb ladders and spiral down slides near a blue memorial honoring Mowris.

Mowris’ widow, Michele Mowris, hopes visitors to the new playground at White Park will remember more than her husband’s name.

“I just hope they have fun. And then they remember the sacrifice he made,” she said. “And that he really did love the community and he did love his country.”

Mowris was a member of the 414th Military Police Company based in Joplin. He had been in the military for 20 years and had also been deployed to Saudi Arabia, El Salvador, Somalia and Kosovo.

A playground is a fitting tribute to the soldier, his wife says, because he was youthful.

“He was a big kid at heart,” she said. “He would have been in the middle of all of it.”

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