Retired Sep. 1, 1989.
Major General William P. Bowden is commander, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.
General Bowden was born in Swifton, Ark., in 1932, where he graduated from high school in 1950. He graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1954 with a bachelor of science degree. He has master's degrees in business administration from The George Washington University and political science from Auburn (Ala.) University. His professional military education includes Air Command and Staff College and the Air War College.
After receiving his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the University of Arkansas, General Bowden entered active duty in September 1954. He reported to Harlingen Air Force Base, Texas, for navigator training in October 1954, completed the course in October 1955 and immediately moved to Mather Air Force Base, Calif., for navigator-bombardier training. Upon graduation in March 1956, he was assigned to the 6th Bombardment Wing, Walker Air Force Base, N.M., as a B-36 bombardier until 1958. The wing then converted to B-52s and he remained there through July 1959.
His next assignment was at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., with the 4135th Strategic Wing as a standardization instructor navigator-bombardier. At that time the wing was involved in B-52 testing of the AGM-28 air-to-surface missile and the ADM-20 decoy missile. In 1962 General Bowden transferred to the Strategic Air Command Project Office at the Air Proving Ground Center, Eglin Air Force Base, to work air-to-surface missile testing, B-52 avionics development and conventional munitions test programs.
From July 1964 to June 1965 he attended the Air Command and Staff College and concurrently earned a master of science degree in business administration from The George Washington University cooperative education program on Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. After Air Command and Staff College he was assigned to Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., in avionics requirements. His program assignments included B-52 offensive avionics, KC-135 system modifications and RC-135 reconnaissance modifications.
In September 1969 he joined the B-52 Arc Light program at U-Tapoo Royal Thai Naval Airfield, Thailand, as an operations officer. While there he flew 44 combat missions. Upon his return to the United States in September 1970, General Bowden was assigned to the Directorate for Force Development, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. He was a manager for fighter war readiness materiel logistics planning for conventional munitions. The programs he was involved with included the Maverick and laser-guided bombs.
He completed the Air War College in 1973 as a distinguished graduate. General Bowden also obtained a master's degree in political science from Auburn University's Maxwell Air Force Base campus. That led to a tour of duty as a faculty instructor and chief of the Curriculum Planning Division at the Air War College. He participated in implementing the change of the Air War College program of study from national-international affairs to one more oriented to air power applications.
From March 1976 to August 1978 the general was assigned to Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Tinker Air Force Base, first as the KC-135 system manager and, later, as the combined system manager for B-52s, A-7s and KC-135s. He was then assigned as director of materiel management. In this assignment General Bowden managed a number of engine improvement programs and several aircraft life extensions and modernization programs. One of these programs was the initiation of the air-launched cruise missile modification.
General Bowden was assigned as assistant deputy chief of staff, logistics operations, Headquarters Air Force Logistics Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in April 1980. In April 1981 he returned to Air Force headquarters as deputy director for logistics plans and programs, and in September 1982 was named director for logistics plans and operations. General Bowden was again assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in March 1983 as Air Force Logistics Command's deputy chief of staff for logistics operations. In July 1983 he became deputy chief of staff for materiel management, and in September 1984 was named chief of staff for Air Force Logistics Command. He assumed his present duties in December 1985.
The general is a master navigator and has 4,500 flying hours. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with oak leaf cluster and Air Force Commendation Medal. In September 1980 he was awarded the Air Force Association's Thomas P. Gerrity Award for Logistics Management.
He was promoted to major general Aug. 1, 1983, with date of rank Aug. 1, 1979.