Died Oct. 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, Washington, D.C., to assume command of the newly activated 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.
Profoundly interested in the study of human relations, he is also an avid reader, and has written articles for publication in the Air University Quarterly Review; he has been active in Toastmasters clubs for several years and was influential in establishing the chapter at Larson Air Force Base and the Armed Forces Staff College. General Bowman enjoys working with his hands - rebinds old editions of favorite books, repairs antiques, and is an amateur gardener; finds swimming less time-consuming than either fishing, which he enjoys when it offers some sport, or golf; says he is a 'would'-be golfer.
Denies any unusual talent and skills, but his listeners agree he captures an audience by his unusual flair for using the idiom of the day to put over a complex idea or a less than fascinating proposal.
No joiner, he prefers to generalize his civic activities toward achievement of good community relations as a whole. In recognition of the outstanding community relations program achieved during his command of Larson Air Force Base, the Chamber of Commerce of Moses Lake, Wash., presented him with a plaque which remains one of his proudest possessions; national civic organizations cited the program as a model. General Bowman is a Presbyterian; however, he usually attends a on-base church services at the Staff College, and heads the adult Bible class to study "on a mature level the basic concepts, attitude and insights which have made possible our Western civilization."
Opinions, Tastes and Evaluations
His "loathing of spinach is immeasurable, matched only by my fondness for mangoes, borscht and lobster soup (not necessarily in combination)." Likes barbecues and outdoors cooking en famille. Welcomes the trend toward well-designed sports clothes that enable him to be "coatlessly comfortable." When it comes to buying his clothes or selecting what to wear, "thank heaven for Mrs. Bowman!" On housing: "Life in a family preoccupied with teen-age activities, women's club, art classes, and the altar guild is never less than absorbing, but let's face it - just for once I'd like a set of quarters with enough room for a retreat for poppa - a workshop and exclusive use of a desk."
Seldom has time for fiction, but enjoys it. Finds capsule-type reading enables him to keep current in his fields of interest - World events, economic research, biographies and speeches. Old favorite: "Choice Readings" by Cumnock. Among periodicals subscribed to are Wisdom, National Geographic and Readers Digest. Likes J.P. McEvoy and finds MacKinlay Kantor provocative and stimulating. A self-styled "frustrated cartoonist," he collects cartoons which he recaptions to reflect local or current personalities and events. Whether traveling in the United States, Europe, Middle or Far East, he looks for the historic; draws inspiration from the majesty and grandeur of mountains, the color and spectacle of the Grand Canyon.
"Victory goes to the commander who does the mostest with the leasiest." "Emergencies generally occur only if you're not trained to what you're doing."
Philosophy of life: good human relations - whether applied to two people, to command relations or to community relations - depends not on the subservience of one's view to those of another, but rather on a two-way flow of earnest convictions and a mutual respect.
Look for a can-do attitude; intellectual curiosity; empathy; boldness - "it takes courage to be a non-conformist