Died October 23,1994
Harold Webb Bowman was born in Waverly, Neb., 1903. He graduated from the University of California in 1928 with a reserve commission from Air ROTC. In June of that year he was appointed an Air Corps flying cadet, and after graduating from primary and advanced flying schools, he was rated a pilot. He received his regular commission as a second lieutenant of the Air Corps on Sept. 4, 1929.
Lieutenant Bowman's early flying duties between 1929 and 1937 took him to several Army airfields in the United States and to Clark Field in the Philippine Islands. In two of these assignments he served additionally as public relations officer under the command of officers destined to lead U.S. forces during World War II, e.g., Major (later General) Carl Spaatz and Lieutenant Colonel (later Lieutenant General) Barton K. Yount at Rockwell Field, San Diego, Calif., and Major (later General) Joseph T. McNarney and Colonel (later General of the Army) H.H. Arnold at March Field, Calif. While stationed at March Field, Lieutenant Bowman was public relations officer in 1933 for the adjacent Civilian Conservation Corps district, and in 1934 was responsible for publicity coverage in the western zone of the Air Corps' brief project of flying the U.S. mail.
Ordered to Wright Field in 1938, he directed the Air Corps Motion Picture Laboratory and the Army Aeronautical Museum, and was responsible for all public relations for the National Air Races held in Cleveland in 1938 and 1939.
Captain Bowman was called to Washington, D.C., for service as assistant executive in the Office of the Chief of the Air Corps in November 1939. The Congress was clamoring for an air force at any cost; when planners predicted in 1941 that to carry out a strategic bombing offensive in a simultaneous war against Germany and Japan the Army Air Forces would need 239 combat groups and more than two million men, the Directorate of Military Requirements was established and Lieutenant Colonel Bowman became its assistant director in 1942.
He was ordered to Geiger Field, Wash., in June 1943 to take command of the 401st Bomb Group shortly after its activation, and six months later he took the group overseas to become a unit of the 1st Bombardment Division of the Eighth Air Force. The Eighth Air Force has been growing rapidly during the winter of 1943-44 as new bomber and fighter groups arrived in a steady stream from the United States. When the opportunity to strike a massive blow at the German aircraft industry arrived, the first of a series of long-planned attacks, which became known as the 'Big Week', was launched on Feb. 20, 1944. The Big Week cost the Allies six percent of the bombers employed but it set back enemy aircraft production by months at a critical time. The 401st Bomb Group (Heavy) was cited in the name of the president of the United States for extraordinary heroism, determination, and esprit de corps in action against the enemy on Feb. 20, 1944. For his "gallantry, tenacity of purpose, and brilliant leadership on that date while leading a heavy bombardment division of Flying Fortresses which dealt a "crushing blow to the enemy's war effort", Colonel Bowman was awarded the Silver Star.
For the purpose of indoctrinating correspondents on the results of bombings on strategic targets, Colonel Bowman was called to duty in the headquarters of the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe to serve as deputy chief of staff for public relations in December 1944. However, when the secretary of war gave the Army Air Forces authority in 1945 to administer their own public relations, Colonel Bowman was named to head up this program in Washington. In 1947 he became the first deputy director of the expanded Office of Information Services, which included public relations and legislative services, for the U.S. Air Force.
Following his graduation from the National War College in 1948, Colonel Bowman's activities for the next two years centered around the Air Reserve and Air National Guard programs in the 14 states served by the Ninth Air Force, of which he became chief of staff and subsequently vice commander.
In August 1950 when the Air Force began to rebuild the Tactical Air Command, Colonel Bowman was selected to serve as deputy for personnel of the command until 1951. Shortly after the establishment of a troop carrier air force to handle TAC's troop carrier units, however, he was sent to McChord Air Force Base, Wash., to assume command of the 62nd Troop Carrier Wing. This wing was the nucleus for TAC's growing C-l24 inventory during the troop carrier modernization program of 1951-54. Colonel Bowman was promoted to brigadier general in September of that year.
Brigadier General Bowman returned to Europe in 1954 for duty with the U.S. European Command in Paris. As deputy director for plans he was largely concerned with the preparation and coordination of strategic military plans with agencies of the United States and with Allied organizations. In addition, he served as the U. S. military representative on NATO's Committee for European Air Space Coordination.
Since July 1957 General Bowman has served as deputy commandant, Air Force, of the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Va. This high level school in the military education system provides education in joint and combined operations to selected senior officers of the U.S. Armed Services, representatives from several U.S. Government agencies, and a few Allied observers from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and France.
General Bowman has been a command pilot since 1942, and currently flies a Navy R4D-8 type aircraft.
Decorations and Medals
Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Unit Citation with oak leaf cluster, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four Bronze Stars: Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; and Rhineland campaigns, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World Wide II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Award with six oak leaf clusters, Philippine Liberation Ribbon, France: Croix de Guerre avec Palme.