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Alpha L. Bowser
Lieutenant General Alpha L. Bowser
Nickname "Alph", "Al"
Born (1910-08-21)August 21, 1910
Died July 13, 2003(2003-07-13) (aged 92)
Place of birth Crafton, Pennsylvania
Place of death Kailua, Honolulu County, Hawaii
Buried at San Diego, California
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1932–1967
Rank Lieutenant General
Commands held 2nd Battalion, 12th Marines
3rd 105mm Howitzer Battalion, 12th Marines
Recruit Training Command, MCRD San Diego
Twentynine Palms
Camp Lejeune
Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic
Battles/wars

World War II

Korean War

Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit (with "V") (3)
Bronze Star (2)
Relations Mary Heath Clapp (Wife)
Joan Bowser (Daughter)

Alpha Lyons Bowser (August 21, 1910 – July 13, 2003) was a United States Marine Corps lieutenant general. He was a combat veteran of World War II and the Korean War — decorated for his actions during the Battle of Iwo Jima and in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Alpha Lyons Bowser[1] was born on August 21, 1910 in Crafton, Pennsylvania. He graduated from high school in Crafton in 1928. He entered the United States Naval Academy that year, and was commissioned a Marine Corps second lieutenant upon graduation on June 2, 1932.

Early Marine Corps career[edit | edit source]

Bowser completed the Basic School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in June 1933, and later saw duty on the USS Texas (BB-35). In July 1934, he was assigned to the 1st Marine Brigade, Quantico, Virginia. He served there until July 1935, when he was promoted to first lieutenant.

Bowser then entered the Army Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and upon completing the course in June 1936, returned to Quantico. In June 1937, he joined the Marine Detachment on the USS Nevada (BB-36). He was promoted to captain in October 1938.

Detached from the Nevada in January 1939, Bowser was transferred to San Diego, California. He served on the 2nd Brigade Staff and commanded artillery batteries there until June 1940, when he returned to Quantico to serve as an artillery instructor for two years. He was promoted to major in May 1942.

World War II[edit | edit source]

In July 1942, Bowser joined the 3rd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, serving initially as Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion, 12th Marines, and later as Assistant G-3. He moved with his unit to San Diego that October, and sailed for the Pacific area in January 1943. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in March 1943.

Bowser served as an observer during the New Georgia Campaign in August 1943, and as Assistant G-3 and G-3 of the 3rd Marine Division during the Bougainville Campaign in November and December 1943. For heroic achievement in the latter assignment, he was awarded his first Bronze Star.

In February 1944, Bowser was given command of the 3rd 105mm Howitzer Battalion, 12th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. He was awarded a second Bronze Star Medal for outstanding service in this capacity during the recapture of Guam, and his first Legion of Merit with Combat "V" during the Iwo Jima campaign.

Following his return to the United States in May 1945, Bowser was stationed at Headquarters Marine Corps as Chief, Records Branch, Personnel Department, until May 1946. He then served for three years on the Staff of the Marine Corps Schools at Quantico. He was promoted to colonel in August 1949.

Korean War[edit | edit source]

In September 1949, Bowser joined the Staff of Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, in Honolulu, Hawaii, as Assistant G-3 and Naval Gunfire Officer. He served in this capacity until July 1950 when he was ordered to Korea. There he served as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, 1st Marine Division. For outstanding service during the Inchon-Seoul and Chosin Reservoir actions, respectively, he was awarded a second and third Legion of Merit with Combat "V".

1950s and 1960s[edit | edit source]

After his return from Korea in May 1951, Col Bowser served at Camp Pendleton, California, as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, of the Marine Corps Base, until February 1952, when he became Chief of Staff of the 3rd Marine Division. In July 1952, he was ordered to Paris, France, where he served until July 1954 as Staff Officer, Plans Branch, and Senior Marine Officer, Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers, Europe (SHAPE). On his return to Washington, he entered the National War College in August 1954, completing the course in June 1955.

In July 1955, Bowser transferred to San Diego and began a year's duty on the Staff of Commander, Amphibious Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, as Assistant Chief of Staff for Troop Operations and Training, and Force Marine Officer. In August 1956, he assumed command of the Recruit Training Command, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. He was promoted to brigadier general in September 1956.

Bowser served in San Diego until June 1958, when he became Assistant Division Commander, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton. In January 1959, he was assigned as Commanding General, Marine Corps Base, Twentynine Palms, California. While serving in this capacity he was promoted to major general in July 1960.

In October 1960, Bowser was transferred to Headquarters Marine Corps where he served as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1, and later as Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Programs. Upon his detachment in July 1963, he served for two years as Commanding General, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

Nominated for three-star rank by President Lyndon B. Johnson in March 1965, Bowser began his last active duty assignment as Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic, with headquarters at Norfolk, Virginia, in July 1965. For service in this capacity from July 1, 1965 until June 30, 1967, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. He retired from active duty on June 30, 1967.

Final years[edit | edit source]

Lieutenant General Bowser died at his home in Kailua, Hawaii, on July 13, 2003 at the age of 92.[1] A memorial service was held for Bowser at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. His ashes are interred in San Diego, California.

Awards and decorations[edit | edit source]

A complete list of LtGen Bowser's medals and decorations include:

V
Gold star
Gold star
V
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Navy Distinguished Service Medal Legion of Merit w/ 2 award stars & valor device
Bronze Star w/ 1 award star & valor device Air Medal Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 2 service stars Navy Unit Commendation w/ 2 service stars
American Defense Service Medal American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 5 service stars World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star Korean Service Medal w/ 5 service stars United Nations Korea Medal Korean Presidential Unit Citation w/ 2 service stars

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Lee, Sgt. Joseph (July 18, 2003). "Marine Corps legend passes: Leathernecks mourn loss of Iwo Jima, Chosin veteran". Leatherneck Magazine. Story Identification Number: 2003718165043. http://www.leatherneck.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8510. Retrieved January 9, 2009. 

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

This article incorporates text in the public domain from the United States Marine Corps.

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Halberstam, David (2007). The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War. Hyperion. ISBN 978-1-4013-0052-4.  Includes Bowser's assessment of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.
  • Warren, James A. (2007). American Spartans: The U.S. Marines: A Combat History from Iwo Jima to Iraq. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4165-3297-2. 

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