By John Rutherford, Producer, NBC News, Washington
Burials at Arlington National Cemetery are always sad, but the burial of Army Staff Sgt. Collin Bowen was especially so.
Bowen, 38, died last month of burns suffered in Afghanistan and was buried Tuesday before a large group of mourners that included his wife and three young daughters.
Bowen was on the final day of his final mission near the Pakistani border on Jan. 2 when he was critically burned on his head and limbs by a roadside bomb. Evacuated to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, he survived for 10 weeks before succumbing on March 14.
"Collin passed away peacefully," his brother wrote in an online journal, "with his family holding his hands at his bedside. May he rest in peace."
Bowen grew up in Marion, Ind., and spent most of his adult life in the Baltimore area. He met his wife, Ursala, while taking her Spanish class at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
"He called her mi corazon, and she called him mi amor," a neighbor told Capital News Service.
Their family included a daughter, Gabriela, 3, and his two daughters from a previous marriage, Katelyn, 10, and Erin, 13.
"He was your typical patriotic dude, very much into his family and his country," the neighbor said. "He was a very fulfilled man."
Bowen volunteered to serve in Afghanistan with the Maryland National Guard and volunteered for his final, 10-day mission. He was only six miles from base when the bomb exploded.
He was the 487th U.S. fatality of the war in Afghanistan.
1. Army Spc. Lerando Brown, 27, of Gulfport, Miss.
2. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Elledge, 41, of Colorado Springs, Colo.
3. Army Spc. Christopher Simpson, 23, of Hampton, Va.
4. Army Sgt. Gregory Unruh, 28, of Dickinson, Texas.
5. Army Pfc. Antione Robinson, 20, of Detroit, Mich.
6. Army Pvt. Tyler Smith, 22, of Bethel, Maine.
7. Army Staff Sgt. William Neil Jr., 38, of Holmden, N.J.
8. Air Force Tech. Sgt. William Jefferson Jr., 34, of Norfolk, Va.
9. Army Sgt. Thomas Ray II, 40, of Weaversville, N.C.
10. Army Spc. David Stelmat, 27, of Littleton, N.H.
11. Army Sgt. David Williams, 26, of Tarboro, N.C.
Washington Producer John Rutherford is a decorated Vietnam veteran. He also posts stories on the military at www.fieldnotes.msnbc.com (click on "John Rutherford" under "categories") and at http://john-rutherford.newsvine.com/. The tribute gallery can be found at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22802019/.