MONTEVALLO, Ala. (WIAT) — At Spring Creek Prop Farm in Montevallo, visitors can take a look at the past. It’s a place that provides props for films and productions. At the prop farm, you can find military uniforms from many eras. And for owner Len Ward, they’re treasures to be revered.
Ward took CBS 42 Reporter Conan Gasque on a tour of the collection, stating, “That’s preserving history there.”
But even among this honorable collection, some uniforms stand out. One uniform belonged to an air force veteran. Ward bought it at an estate sale this December.
“He had two silver stars, two bronze stars, two purple hearts,” Ward explained. “The company said that they understood that the veteran had died, and that his family didn’t want his uniform.”
Col. Henry Fowler is that veteran. He’s 80 years old, and contrary to reports, is alive and well.
Fowler explained, “As my doctor said, If I’m a cat with nine lives, I’ve already used 17, but I’m still here.”
But Fowler nearly died in the Vietnam War.
Fowler recounted, “I ran into two surface air missiles which destroyed my airplane and I ejected. And I landed 24 miles from the capital city of North Vietnam. Captured very quickly and spent almost the next six years in a prisoner of war camp in Hanoi along with John McCain and others.”
His time in the air force brings him great pride as do the uniforms he wore.
Fowler said, “I got about 19 medals during my career. And they were all on that uniform.”
A uniform he went almost a decade without seeing, thinking it was lost in the process of a divorce.
Fowler said, “I presumed [the uniform and medals] were lost or gone.”
Until some pictures of the uniform showed up on Facebook.
Fowler said, “We found out about this by a phone call from our friend in Birmingham, who had heard from someone else who had seen it, I guess, on Facebook.”
Fowler’s wife Carol tracked the uniform down on social media, and soon got a call from its current owner.
Ward recounted what he said to Carol after she contacted him about the uniform.
Fowler said, “Carol, I have the uniforms. It’s in Montevallo and it’s safe. And it’s Colonel Fowler’s, whenever he wants to get it, it’s his.”
A couple of weeks later, the colonel paid Ward a visit.
Ward said, “I didn’t tell him where it was. So I just told him you need to go down to that last room and walk in. Colonel Fowler walked maybe 10 steps into the room and stopped and stumbled, and his mouth fell open, because there was his uniform.”
Fowler said, “Well it’s hard to put in words. No tears, but close there to, you know what I’m saying? Because that represented who I was for three decades.”
The uniforms are back in Montgomery now in Fowler’s home.
Where’s he’s blessed to be alive and to have the memories of a life well-lived.
To learn more about Spring Creek Prop Farm, click here.