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Richard H. Bowers

Feb. 17, 1921 to March 15, 2009

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POSTED March 20, 2009 5:14 a.m.
PFC Richard Bowers, US Marine Corps, a veteran of 10 months service in the South Pacific, has invested $500 in war bonds since his enlistment in February, 1941. The youth has returned to duty after spending a 30-day furlough with his parents, Mr. & Mrs. D. E. Bowers, Fort Huachuca. Insidious Japanese propaganda spread by radio broadcasts from Tokyo doesn’t deceive the American fighting men, according to PFC Richard Bowers, 22, US Marine Corps, a former Phoenician, who has seen 10 months duty in the South Pacific.

Broadcasts of sentimental, American songs and talks urging American service men to return to their homes are clever devices of the treacherous Japanese. A “Zero Hour” program, broadcast from Tokyo, is presented every night at 12 o’clock. “One of our men had a radio rigged up, and we could reach the Tokyo station,” Private Bowers explained. Traditional American music, including the nostalgic “Home, Sweet Home,” is featured on this program. After a suitable interval, an English-speaking voice asks the American soldiers if they would like to return to their homes and families. “We enjoy hearing them play American music,” said Private Bowers. “And it makes us laugh because they think we’re taking it all in. It’s really very funny because it makes us feel more like fighting than ever.”

Private Bowers, a former Phoenix Union High School track star, left this week to report for duty at El Toro, CA at the end of a 30-long furlough. He is the son of Mr. & Mrs. D. E. Bowers, Fort Huachuca, formerly residents of Phoenix for about 12 years. He spent Wednesday in Phoenix with a family friend, Mrs. W. B. Slentz, 222 East Pierce Street. The young leatherneck, an ordnance crew member of a dive-bomber squadron, spent four and one-half months on Guadalcanal and also was stationed for a time in the New Hebrides and New Caledonia. His service overseas won for him a presidential citation and the Asiatic-Pacific and American Theater of War medals.

As an ordnance man with the ground crew, it was his duty to check ammunition, load bombs, check machines guns and other equipment. He became so accustomed to air raids that he learned to sleep quite peacefully through long enemy attacks.  “Our planes will stand up a whole lot better than Jap planes,” Private Bowers said proudly, “I’ve seen our come back with the tail shot away, the fuselage smashed and the wings damaged, and still make a good three-point landing. On the other hand, put a hole in a Jap plane and it’s gone.”

He related the amazing record of Douglas dive bomber which was mutilated by a 20-millimeter hole in the wing. “The plane began to shake, and the pilot ordered the gunner to bail out,” said Private Bowers. “Then the pilot told him to wait a minute because he thought he could hold the controls. He brought the plane down safely at an American air base.” “The marines don’t like to take prisoners,” he stated. “You can’t trust them, and if you don’t get them, they’ll get you,” he explained. “Most of those poor devils think Japan owns half of San Francisco now,” he said. “One captive said to us, ‘You guys have these islands, but you won’t get Pearl Harbor back.’”

According to the young marine, Americans stationed in the tropics easily fall prey to malaria and yellow jaundice, sometimes suffering as many as seven or eight attacks. “I was luckier than some,” he said, “because I only had malaria once.” Supplies of quinine are always available in any camp. Natives on the South Pacific islands are very friendly to the Americans, he stated. “One guy got shot in the jungle and was found by natives. They nursed him, fed him, and when he was well enough gave him a guide and sent him back to camp.”

“Mail those Christmas packages early,’ advises Private Bowers. Last year he received his Christmas package, which was mailed here in October, the following July.

According to Private Bowers, the Japanese now has women bombardiers and navigators on some of their planes.

He first left the states on overseas duty on October 15, 1942, aboard a converted luxury liner. Later he was transferred to an aircraft carrier.” All members of his squadron received a presidential citation on November 7, 1942, when they occupied some Japanese-held ports.

Since his enlistment in the armed forces, Private Bowers has invested $500 into war bonds. He entered the armed forces in February, 1941, shortly after his 21st birthday, receiving his basic training at San Diego.

Widely known in high school sports activities here, he set up a new mark of 51.1 seconds in the quarter mile race at the Greenway Field Meet in April of 1940. His younger brother, Bob Bowers, now stationed at a destroyer base in San Diego, also was a high school track star here.

Forty-five year veteran of International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers. Born February 17, 1921, Richard left his daughter Sheela, son-in-law David, his granddaughters Shanna and Jenna. Also, in all but the name, Rachella. The only love of his life, Shirley, for a new journey on Sunday, March 15, 2008. Heaven, look out, here comes Richard.
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
Friday, March 20, 2009
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