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USS Bowers (DE 637 / APD 40)

Flag Hoist / Radio Call Sign:
N - H - P - A
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row: Combat Action Ribbon (retroactive) - American Campaign Medal - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 4 stars
Second Row: World War II Victory Medal - National Defense Service Medal - Philippine Liberation Ribbon

Class: Buckley
Type: TE (turbine-electric drive, 3" guns)
Displacement: 1400 tons (light), 1740 tons (full)
Length: 300' (wl), 306' (oa)
Beam: 36' 9" (extreme)
Draft: 10' 6" (draft limit)
Propulsion: 2 "D" Express boilers, G.E. turbines with electric drive, 12000 shp, 2 screws
Speed: 24 kts
Range: 6,000 nm @ 12 knots
Armament: 3 x 3"/50 Mk22 (1x3), 1 twin 40mm Mk1 AA, 8 x 20mm Mk 4 AA, 3 x 21" Mk15 TT (3x1), 1 Hedgehog Projector Mk10 (144 rounds), 8 Mk6 depth charge projectors, 2 Mk9 depth charge tracks
Complement: 15 / 198
Bowers (DE 637) Building and Operational Data:
  • 28 May 1943: Keel laid by the Bethlehem Steel Shipyard Corp., San Francisco, Cal.
  • 31 October 1943: Launched and christened, sponsored by Mrs. Eunice Bowers, the mother of Ens. Bowers
  • 27 January 1944: Commissioned, Lcdr. Frederic W. Hawes, USN, in command
  • 25 June 1945: Reclassified APD 40, conversion commenced at the Philadelphia Navy Yard
  • 10 February 1947: Decommissioned at Green Cove Springs, Fla. after 3 years and month of service
  • 06 February 1951: Recommissioned at Green Cove Springs, Fla., assigned to the Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet at Little Creek, Va.
  • March 1955: Assigned as NRT ship, 6th Naval District at Charleston, S.C.
  • 18 December 1958: Decommissioned at Charleston, S.C. after 7 years and 10 months of service
  • 21 April 1961: Transferred to the Philippines, renamed BRP Rajah Soliman (D-66)
  • 01 May 1961: Struck from the NVR with a total of 10 years and 10 months of service
  • June 1962: Sank in a typhoon at Bataan National Shipyard (raised, stricken, December 1964)
  • 31 January 1966: Hulk sold to Mitsubishi International Corp. for scrapping

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    35k Robert Keith Bowers was born on 25 September 1915 in Ellensburg, Wash. He was a 1934 graduate of Ellensburg High School, where he was active in band and the school orchestra. He also was a member of the Latin and chemistry clubs. When Bowers enlisted in the Naval Reserve at Seattle on 12 January 1940 for preliminary training, he was taking pre-med courses at the University of Washington. He had hopes to become a physician. He was appointed an aviation cadet on 01 March and reported to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Fla., on 12 December for training as a naval aviator. Upon the completion of this course, Bowers was commissioned an ensign on 11 February 1941.

    Following a brief tour of duty with Observation Squadron (VO) 1 embarked in USS Nevada (BB 36), Ens. Bowers reported on 19 March to VO-2 on board USS California (BB 44), by then based at Pearl Harbor. When the Japanese launched their surprise attack against that American base on 07 December 1941, Bowers' ship was moored at the southernmost berth of "Battleship Row." She suffered great damage when hit and settled into the mud with only her superstructure above water. It was related that Bowers went down into the ship's hold either to help rescue men trapped by the first hit or direct the moving of ammunition to topside crews firing at Japanese aircraft. He was caught down there by the second hit and was killed. Ens. Bowers was one of the 98 Navy men killed on board California. During the early evening of 11 December 1941, his parents Alva and Eunice Bowers were notified that their son died in the first wave attack on Pearl Harbor.

    Robert Keith Bowers is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii, an American Battle Monuments Commission location.

    USS Bowers (DE 637) (1944-1958) was the first ship to be named in his honor.

    (Photo from the web site:Honor States)

    Mike Smolinski
    Clifton, N.J.

    Archive Manager
    DE / FF / LCS Archive
    Bowers 510k 07 January 1944: San Francisco, Cal. - The future USS Bowers on the building way at Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s San Francisco shipyard. The ship would be commissioned in a mere twenty days, on 27 January 1944.

    (Bethlehem Steel Photos #P82-125a.4144n and P82-125a.4123n from the Bethlehem Steel Collection in the J. Porter Shaw Library at the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park)
    Todd Willmarth
    St. Paul, Minn.
    Bowers 400k
    Bowers 240k 14 February 1944: San Francisco Bay - Four views of Bowers taken by the Bethlehem Steel Shipbuilding Corp. shortly after her commissioning.

    Bow view. Note her motor whaleboat swung out.

    A portside beam view.

    Port quarter view.

    Stern view.
    Ed Zajkowski
    Narvon, Pa.
    Bowers 339k
    Bowers 320k
    Bowers 248k
    Bowers 33k 05 February 1944: an aerial shot taken off NAS Alameda, California.

    (U.S. Navy Photo #NARA-80G-216256)
    Contributed by
    Rob Reilly
    National Association of
    USS LCS(L) 1-130
    Bowers 26k 16 April 1945: Crashed Japanese Oscar is on the bridge.

    (U.S. Navy Photo #NARA-80G-315254)
    Bowers 130k 16 April 1945: North of Ie Shima Island - The destroyer escort USS Bowers (DE 637) after being hit by a Japanese Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa (Peregrine Falcon) Army Type 1 Fighter, north of Ie Shima. Photo 1 was taken after the fire had burnt out, the remains of the 'Oscar' that can still be seen, wedged into the navigation bridge in front of the pilot house. Photo 2 was taken later, after the wreckage of the 'Oscar' had been tossed overboard, exposing the gaping hole in the forward bulkhead of the pilothouse, where heavy casualties occurred.

    (Photos from the National Archives and Records Administration facility, College Park, MD and were in the book "Fire From The Sky" by Robert C. Stern)
    Bob Hurst
    Worksop, Nottinghamshire,
    England, United Kingdom
    Bowers 121k
    Bowers 129k 16 April 1945: the Western Pacific Ocean - USS Bowers (DE 637) arriving in the Kerama Retto, Ryukyu Islands, under her own power after being hit by a Kamikaze. Wreckage of the plane, a Nakajima Ki-43 (Oscar), can be seen embedded in the the ship's bridge face. Note Bowers' very unusual paint, with traces of Camouflage Measure 31 or 32, Design 16D, showing through Camouflage Measure 22. The ship may have been undergoing repainting at the time she received this damage.

    (U.S. Navy Photo #80-G-315257 from the United States National Archives)
    Mike Green
    Port Angeles, Wash.

    Bowers History
    View the USS Bowers (DE 637) DANFS history entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site.

    Bowers' Commanding Officers
    Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves
    Dates of Command Commanding Officers
    1.)  27 Jan. 1944 - 06 Dec. 1944Cmdr. Frederick William Hawes, USN (Comm. CO)
    2.)  06 Dec. 1944 - 16 Apr. 1945Lcdr. Charles Franklin Highfield, USNR
    3.)  16 Apr. 1945 - .. Aug. 1945Lt. Truman Boyce Hinkle, USNR (Olympia, Wash.)
    4.)  .. Aug. 1945 - .. Dec. 1945Lt. Kenneth Ferguson Williams, USNR
    5.)  .. Dec. 1945 - 01 Mar. 1946Lt. Timothy Vincent Hallahan, USNR
    6.)  01 Mar. 1946 - .. Apr. 1946Lt.(jg) Alfred Quentin Brinkerhoff, Jr., USNR
    7.)  .. Apr. 1946 - 27 May 1946Lt.(jg) John Wilfred Kennedy, Jr., USNR
    8.)  27 May 1946 - .. Jul. 1946Lcdr. James Ross Slabaugh, USNR
    9.)  .. Jul. 1946 - 01 Sep. 1946Lcdr. Phillip Arin Murray
    10.) 01 Sep. 1946 - 01 Feb. 1947Lt.(jg) Burton Juan Goodrich (Decomm. CO)
    Decommissioned 01 Feb. 1947 - 06 Feb. 1951
    11.) no datesLcdr. Gordon William Martin, Jr. (Seattle, Wash.)
    12.) .. .... .... - .. Jul. 1955Cmdr. Clyde Cecil Sapp

    Crew Contact And Reunion Information

    Note About Contacts

    Contact information is compiled from various sources over a period of time and may, or may not, be correct. Every effort has been
    made to list the newest contact. However, our entry is only as good as the latest information that's been sent to us. We list only
    a contact for the ship if one has been sent to us. We do NOT have crew lists or rosters available. Please see the Frequently Asked
    Questions section on NavSource's Main Page for that information.

    Additional Resources

    Navsource APD Pages, USS Bowers (APD 40)
    Tin Can Sailors
    The U.S. Navy Memorial
    Destroyer Escort Sailors Association
    The Destroyer Escort Historical Museum
    The Destroyer History Foundation
    Tin Can Sailors Shipmate Registry - USS Bowers
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    This Page Created And Maintained By Mike Smolinski
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    by Paul R. Yarnall, All Rights Reserved.
    Page Last Updated: 31 July 2021