Retired USMC Sgt. Joe Kowalski Jr. stood stock-still on the Red River South Marina dock. His eyes were fixed on the sky to track the huge aircraft that thundered low overhead.
“It’s a B-52,” he said. “My ... brother’s plane,” he added, a catch in his throat.
The flyover of the B-52 from Barksdale Air Force Base was arranged as part of the opening ceremony for the Bassmaster Classic competition last Friday. From Connecticut, Kowalski had come to Shreveport to cheer on Classic pro Bobby Lane, who carried something in his pocket that is very dear to Kowalski.
It was a flight scarf that had belonged to the man he refers to as his brother, Maj. Steven Roy Andrews.
Andrews lost his life serving his country. He and Kowalski were not brothers, but best friends and closer than most brothers are, Kowalski explained. When he founded a non-profit endeavor that offers at-risk veterans and kids a fishing outing, he named it the “Major Steven Roy Andrews Fishing Outreach Program” (fishingoutreachprogram.com).
The small silk scarf is black. On it is printed “11th Bomb Squadron.” Lane was proud to carry the scarf. He said it reminded him of his grandfather, a Marine veteran like Kowalski.
“The night before the Classic, he gave me this scarf and told me to go win,” Lane said. “It’s not supposed to leave my pocket.”
And perhaps Andrews is watching over Lane, in fourth place after two days. He was about 5 pounds behind the leader, who, as it happens, was his brother Chris.