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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)
DE / FF / LCS Archive
|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)
St. Paul, Minn.
|240k||14 February 1944: San Francisco Bay - Four views of Bowers taken by the Bethlehem Steel Shipbuilding Corp. shortly after her
Bow view. Note her motor whaleboat swung out.
A portside beam view.
Port quarter view.
|33k||05 February 1944: an aerial shot taken off NAS Alameda, California.
(U.S. Navy Photo #NARA-80G-216256)
National Association of
USS LCS(L) 1-130
|26k||16 April 1945: Crashed Japanese Oscar is on the bridge.|
(U.S. Navy Photo #NARA-80G-315254)
|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)
England, United Kingdom
|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)
Port Angeles, Wash.
|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. 1944||Cmdr. Frederick William Hawes, USN (Comm. CO)|
|2.) 06 Dec. 1944 - 16 Apr. 1945||Lcdr. Charles Franklin Highfield, USNR|
|3.) 16 Apr. 1945 - .. Aug. 1945||Lt. Truman Boyce Hinkle, USNR (Olympia, Wash.)|
|4.) .. Aug. 1945 - .. Dec. 1945||Lt. Kenneth Ferguson Williams, USNR|
|5.) .. Dec. 1945 - 01 Mar. 1946||Lt. Timothy Vincent Hallahan, USNR|
|6.) 01 Mar. 1946 - .. Apr. 1946||Lt.(jg) Alfred Quentin Brinkerhoff, Jr., USNR|
|7.) .. Apr. 1946 - 27 May 1946||Lt.(jg) John Wilfred Kennedy, Jr., USNR|
|8.) 27 May 1946 - .. Jul. 1946||Lcdr. James Ross Slabaugh, USNR|
|9.) .. Jul. 1946 - 01 Sep. 1946||Lcdr. Phillip Arin Murray|
|10.) 01 Sep. 1946 - 01 Feb. 1947||Lt.(jg) Burton Juan Goodrich (Decomm. CO)|
|Decommissioned 01 Feb. 1947 - 06 Feb. 1951|
|11.) no dates||Lcdr. Gordon William Martin, Jr. (Seattle, Wash.)|
|12.) .. .... .... - .. Jul. 1955||Cmdr. Clyde Cecil Sapp|
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.
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Page Last Updated: 31 July 2021