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Home : News : News Features
NEWS | Jan. 31, 2017

Texas National Guard conducts final roll call for 10-year-old Spc. Rowan Windham

By Sgt. Elizabeth Pena Texas National Guard

AUSTIN, Texas – There wasn't a dry eye in sight during the Jan. 24 final Roll Call ceremony for honorary Texas Army National Guard Spc. Rowan Jameson Windham at Camp Mabry in Austin.

A final roll call ceremony is a military ritual designed to serve as a tribute paid by Soldiers to their deceased comrade.

Each Soldier sounds off, "Here, first sergeant!" when their name is called. But on this day, the auditorium fell silent as Rowan's name was echoed throughout the packed room. "Spc. Rowan Windham…"

Rowan, 10, died Dec. 15, 2016, after battling a rare disease all his life. Traditionally, the ceremony includes a visible reminder of the deceased Soldier. The headgear and identification tags signify the fallen. In most cases, an inverted rifle with bayonet, but this case a wooden cross and gear stand, signals a time for prayer, a break in action to pay tribute to their comrade.

"He was an incredible kid," said Command Sgt. Maj. Mark A. Weedon, senior enlisted advisor for the Texas Military Department. "He did more in his small 10 years of life, than some of us do in a lifetime."

Rowan's lasting impact on the Texas Military Department was evident during the emotional roll call ceremony, as hundreds of service members came to pay their respects with Kleenex in hand.

Also present at the roll call ceremony were Rowan's parents.

"He would be crying happy tears as Rowan would say," said Brian Windham, father of Rowan. "He would be skipping out of here with joy," said Carrie Windham, mother of Rowan, through her own tears of happiness.

Rowan was born with a rare disease, and spent the majority of his years in a hospital battling a genetic disorder called Shwachman-Diomand syndrome.

The young trooper became a member of the Texas Military Department, just two years prior, at the age of eight, during an honorary enlistment ceremony at Camp Mabry, where he was awarded the military occupation specialties of Cavalry Scout and Apache Pilot.

"Thank you and this is the best day ever of my whole entire life," Rowan said in front of hundreds of people, following his enlistment ceremony in March of 2015.

Rowan took his final breath at the Seattle Children's Hospital, following complications from two consecutive bone marrow transplants.

A native Texan, Rowan was an avid actor, video gamer, Lego builder, chef, Bigfoot fan and philanthropist who touched the lives of thousands around the world.

Besides his parents, he is survived by his sister Zoe, his brother Ian, family members, friends and Texas Guard members across the force.