A Retirement Reunion

Outgoing Head of Knoxville Office Meets Man He Saved 22 Years Ago

U.S. Marine Cpl. Stewart Rembert and FBI Special Agent Troy Sowers speak to the media following Sowers' retirement ceremony at the FBI Field Office in Knoxville, Tennessee, August 9, 2019. Photo courtesy of U.S. Marine Corps

FBI Knoxville Special Agent in Charge Troy Sowers and U.S. Marine Cpl. Stewart Rembert were reunited during Sowers' August 9, 2019 retirement ceremony, 22 years after Sowers rescued a newborn Rembert following his 1997 kidnapping in Tacoma, Washington. (USMC photo)

Troy Sowers was a new special agent with the FBI’s Tacoma Resident Agency (part of the Seattle Field Office) in 1997 when he was assigned to a kidnapping case. A woman posing as a doctor had taken a newborn from his mother’s room at St. Clare’s Hospital in Lakewood, Washington.

The agonizing 19-hour search for the infant ended when the kidnapper was apprehended and agreed to lead Sowers to the 9-pound, 5-ounce boy she had abandoned hours earlier in a cardboard box behind a convenience store.

The baby was evaluated at a children’s hospital and then released to his grateful and deeply relieved parents. The kidnapper pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Sowers is now retiring from the FBI, departing the Bureau as special agent in charge of the Knoxville Field Office. At his retirement ceremony today, coworkers surprised Sowers with a visit from someone the agent has thought about often during his 22-year FBI career.

As Knoxville Assistant Special Agent in Charge Sherri Onks relayed highlights of Sowers’ tenure with the FBI, she showed a photograph of a young Marine. This man, she told Sowers, is what became of the boy you saved. “We’ve brought him here to meet you today to wish you well at your retirement,” Onks told a stunned Sowers as U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Stewart Rembert emerged to shake the agent’s hand. “Hello, sir,” Rembert said. “Thank you."

Sowers said he was expecting only donuts and coffee with his office and was shocked to be introduced to Rembert. “Today when I saw him, I had to pause a couple of seconds to keep my composure,” Sowers said. “This case was something I remembered throughout my career.”

“I was excited to meet the man who saved my life,” said Rembert, who traveled to Knoxville with his wife thanks to the good-hearted scheming of the Knoxville Field Office and the generosity of the Society of Former Special Agents. “I was happy to tell him that I’m living a good life, and I’m going to continue living a good life. His efforts that day, and all of his efforts since, made a difference.”

After his dramatic first few days, Rembert settled into life with five brothers and sisters in the Tacoma area. He remembers his family telling him when he was about 5 that he had been kidnapped as a baby. When he was 14, he asked for more information, but said he didn’t ask too many questions, understanding that his parents were not eager to relive the painful details.

Cpl. Rembert attended Mount Tahoma High School, where he participated in the drum line and the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. He has served in the Marine Corps for three years and is currently based out of Camp Lejeune.

“I'm proud of anybody that serves others above themselves,” said Sowers. “The fact that he is now doing that makes that case even more special.”

“Today when I saw him, I had to pause a couple of seconds to keep my composure. This case was something I remembered throughout my career.”

Troy Sowers, special agent in charge (retired), FBI Knoxville