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Bowling Sr., Donald, MAJ USA(Ret).
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Home Town Not Specified
Last Address Madison Indiana
Date of Passing Dec 18, 2003
Location of Interment Florida National Cemetery - Bushnell, Florida
Wall/Plot Coordinates Not Specified
Last Known Activity
Dad passed peacefully in his home with the love of his life holding his hand.
By Donald K. Bowling Junior; the youngest son of an American Hero.
Dad was born in rural Indiana in 1926. He and his three brothers and one sister lived an austere life during the Great Depression. Dad and his family scratched out a life in rustic poverty. His mother would make him his school lunch which usually consisted of two pancakes to take the place of bread. Dad would eat his lunch, hunched over to hide the pancakes so the other kids wouldn’t notice his family could not afford bread. At an early age, dad worked for his father in construction along with his brothers. The Bowling clan often hunted and fished, but not for sport, they did it to eat. He and his brothers were known as “rounders”. In more modern times, the term rounders would be defined best as hell raisers. Dad and his brother Jackie would often visit a local roadhouse called the "Red Duck". It was a rowdy place full of good times and a “few fights”. Jackie said that dad would fight anyone at any time. The Red Duck was the scene of some serious trouble for the Bowling boys; but as long as Dad and older brother Jackie were together, they were a force to be reckoned with. Although they were poor, the Bowling’s were a proud, hard working, tight knit clan.
World War Two came along and Jackie joined the Army. Dad was too young to enlist initially, but when Jackie came home on leave, dad was captivated by the stories told and the uniform. Dad quit high school and enlisted as soon as he could get his Aunt Darcy to sign the paperwork saying he was of age (he wasn’t). He initially volunteered for the Marine Corps, but was hoodwinked by Army recruiters at the large inter-service depot he was housed in prior to shipping out to basic training. He wound up a private in the United States Army Infantry.
He was assigned the BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) because he was the runt of the unit and his superiors felt lugging the cumbersome weapon around would build him up a little. He was only 5 foot 6 inches when he enlisted. His unit was involved in several battles and clean up operations in the Pacific Theater against the Japanese Army. Dad was an outstanding soldier and quickly made rank. He was recommended for and years later awarded the Bronze Star for his actions during a Japanese ambush; his platoon went on a patrol at night. Dad and some of his comrades entered a gully during the patrol. Dad heard someone utter a challenge in Japanese and the sound of a machine gun being charged. Dad leaned backwards as a volley of machine gun rounds cut his friends down. This began a week long standoff between dad’s platoon and a company of Japanese soldiers. Dad was tasked to take the forward most position in the platoon’s hasty defensive perimeter. He held off several attacks by a determined enemy force using his BAR and hand grenades. At one point an American cargo plane flew overhead in an effort to drop supplies to his battered platoon. A Japanese anti-aircraft gun fired on the plane and it quickly turned and retreated. Dad did not take this retreat kindly and added some BAR rounds in the plane’s direction in protest. The platoon held the superior force off and was ultimately relieved. Only ten soldiers survived the ambush and siege. Dad was wounded during this battle, but Army records keeping wasn’t the best so the scars he earned in battle wasn’t rewarded with a Purple Heart. Dad fought and survived over several months and on several islands. Thanks to the decision to drop two atomic bombs on Japan’s home islands, he took part in the peaceful occupation of Japan. After a time of tense patrolling to ensure that there were no pockets of resistance to the American occupation, Dad’s military life became peaceful while worked to in the post office and drilled to remain sharp. He loved the pomp and circumstance of the Army of Occupation. There were regular parades in front of the Emperor’s Palace, which he loved to take part in. Dad loved company, battalion and regimental drill in full battle dress with spit shined boots clicking in unison on the pavement. That was, I think, dad’s favorite part of the Army. “The parades were grand".
After his discharge, dad returned home to Indiana 6 inches taller than when he left. The state passed a law allowing those who quit high school to enlist to receive their diplomas without returning to class. Dad marched in the county clerk’s office to receive his diploma and was promptly told by the county clerk that he didn’t care about what the state of Indiana said, if dad wanted a diploma he was going back to school and earn it. He did and after graduation, enrolled in Hanover College to make something of himself. His college experience was very similar to other combat veterans. The upperclassmen, who were never in the service, attempted in vain to indoctrinate the warrior freshmen through a series of hazing procedures which never quite worked out as planned. Simply put, the combat hardened freshmen took umbrage to the pitiful attempts at intimidation and let their displeasure be known by very direct means. After the upperclassmen recovered from their wounds, they decided not to mess with dad and his cadre of underclassmen.
Dad fell in love with a beautiful young lady from Madison Indiana, married and settled down to live the American Dream. The North Koreans had other plans for dad. After the North Korean invasion of the south, dad received an invitation to the party from the United States Army. Dad was not pleased with the thought of leaving his domestic bliss. He wrote on the invitation notice to active duty “I was screwed” and pinned it to the front door of his house. That note remained there until he was discharged.
Dad’s initial assignment was Drill Sergeant. Sergeant First Class Bowling was a firm but fair task master who took his assignment seriously. He was then given a commission as 2nd Lieutenant U.S. Army Infantry. He volunteered for duty in Korea; however the Army needed experienced troops in the arctic, fearing an invasion from the Soviet Army via the Bering Straits. He was sent to mountain warfare training (which he loved), jump school, and Arctic Warfare training. He arrived in Alaska during a blinding blizzard to lead a platoon of soldiers who were very cold, but also very grateful not to be in Korea. Dad was subsequently assigned to intelligence. His primary job was to keep an eye on the Russians. He and his comrades played cat and mouse with Russian ground troops and aerial reconnaissance for the remainder of his tour.
Dad came home and found a good job with General Motors Acceptance Corporation. He was a loyal, devoted and extremely talented employee in a time when those attributes were recognized and rewarded in the business world. Dad moved up the ladder, transferring to several offices with each promotion until he settled down as Control Branch Manager in Tampa Florida. He oversaw a billion dollar enterprise. I was a teenager at this time and in my zeal to make dad make more money so he had more money to give, I suggested that he forgo his salary in lieu of 1 percent of the gross he earned for GMAC. One percent of a billion dollars, do the math. Throughout his life, particularly the period where he raised four kids, dad personified traits which are very elusive and difficult to live up to for most. He had honor, integrity and he was devoted to his family. He was still a rounder despite his best efforts to subdue that trait. He saw things as either right or wrong, there was no compromise. One day, when we lived in Cleveland, dad was downtown by the stadium to pick me up from some function I was involved in. Dad parked his company car in a legal parking spot and, along with mom, came looking for me. For some reason he returned to his company car (the company part of the car is important to this story). He saw a larger and much younger tow truck driver putting his car on the hook. The fact that the car in question belonged to his revered employer made this act even more despicable to dad. Dad immediately saw this as the scam it was; tow legally parked cars and charge the owners a fee to get them back. Dad told the much larger and much younger tow truck driver to release his car or he (dad) would punch him (the burley tow truck driver). The tow truck driver made the same mistake many upperclassmen at Hanover College did and ignored the admonition. The tow truck driver, minus a tooth, released the car and left to find a dentist. Later that day, dad found me and proudly displayed his bloodied knuckles. This is but one example of what I believe illustrates a common thread of all combat veterans of the WW2 era. There is no bluffing them, they will not stand down or compromise their beliefs, they are loyal to a fault, and honor is a way of life.
Dad retired earlier than he would have liked to (he loved his job) in order to take care of his aging parents. His retirement was viewed by many in GMAC as the end of an era for the company, a prophecy that current events has shown to be true. Retirement gave dad more time to spend with his family, travel with his lovely wife and be with his grandchildren. Dad loved his grand babies. He doted on them, bragged about them and spoiled them rotten. They, in turn saw their grandad not as a rounder, a war hero or a successful business man, but as a big benevolent teddy bear. His grand babies brought dad true joy and unconditional love. It was a side of dad that would, perhaps baffle those young recruits he trained in the early days of the Korean War.
Dad grew old, and fought a long, losing battle with cancer. Even in his worst day during what was literally the fight of his life, dad never betrayed his dignity, honor or loyalty to his family. His last words to me, as he slipped away was a plea to take care of mom and to be an honorable man.
I believe dad’s extraordinary life would not have been complete without his experiences in the Army. Dad loved the Army. Dad loved the ethics of military life. But most of all, dad loved the parades.
Other Memories The 43d Infantry Division became an active National Guard unit in 1923 in accordance with the National Defense Act of 1916. Originally there were two infantry brigades, the 85th in Connecticut, and the 86th in Vermont. The 85th Brigade consisted of the 102d Infantry and the 169th Infantry Regiments both in Connecticut. The 86th Brigade was made up of the 172d Infantry Regiment in Vermont and the 103d Infantry Regiment in Maine. The 68th Field Artillery Brigade located in Providence, Rhode Island consisted of the 103d Field Artillery Regiment in Providence, the 192d Field Artillery Regiment in Connecticut and the 152d Field Artillery Regiment in Maine. The Division Headquarters was located in Hartford, Connecticut. Special units were spread throughout those four New England states.
On February 24, 1941 the Division entered Federal service for one year at the call of the President. That year was extended for the duration after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese armed forces. In February 1942 the Division underwent a complete reorganization to a "triangular division" concept. The brigades were abolished, the artillery regiments were reduced to battalions and other reductions took place. The 102d Infantry Regiment was detached from the Division. It became a separate infantry regiment deploying to the Pacific.
Initially assigned to Camp Blanding, Florida, the Division later trained at Camp Shelby, Mississippi and Ft. Ord, California. From Ft. Ord the Division embarked on ships for the South Pacific. The Division less the 172d Regimental Combat team, consisting of the 172d Infantry Regiment, the 103d Field Artillery Battalion and elements of Ordnance, Engineer Medical and Signal Units, closed in New Zealand in October, 1942. The 172d Infantry Combat Team met with disaster at Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides on October 26, 1942. The liner President Coolidge on which it was embarked struck two US planted mines in the harbor. The only military casualty was Captain Elwood Euart, 103d Field Artillery, who died while rescuing some of his troops. For his bravery Captain Euart was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest medal for heroism authorized by the United States Army.
This event delayed the Division's entrance into combat in the South Pacific area. In November the Division, minus the 172d Regimental Combat Team, went on to New Caledonia. After a concentrated training period, the Division deployed to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in February 1943. This served as the staging area for the next move - to the Russell Islands, also in the Solomons. The Russells proved to be unoccupied by Japs. Further jungle and realistic combat training took place. In June and early July 1943 the Division landed on Rendova and New Georgia Islands. The objective here was to take the Munda Airfield on which the Japs had started construction. The Division augmented by elements of the 37th and 25th Infantry Divisions secured the air strip in early August 1943.
In December 1943/January 1944 the Division returned to New Zealand. After a period of rest and relaxation during which the soldiers of the 43d became fast friends with the Kiwis, a friendship that endures to this day, the 43d absorbed many replacements. Vigorous and intensive training took place for several months. In July 1944 the Division became a part of the force driving the Japs from New Guinea. Landing at Aitape the 43d prevented the Japs from reinforcing their troops along the Drinimour River. This successful campaign evolved into preparation for the invasion of the Philippine Islands.
On January 9, 1945, the 43d Infantry Division participated in the amphibious landing at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon. After several months of almost continuous combat, the Division welcomed the explosion of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki A-bombs. In September 1945 the 43d became one of the first Divisions to occupy Japan. Their stay there was short, however, for in October 1945 the 43d Infantry Division was deactivated at Camp Stoneman, California.
The 43d Division is known as the "Winged Victory Division" derived from the name of its long time combat commander, MG Leonard F. Wing. One of the many distinctions achieved by the 43d - it was the only division to serve in four theaters of the Pacific campaign - South Pacific, Southwest Pacific, Philippines and Japan.
In 1946 the Division was reorganized as a National Guard division. In this reorganization only the states of Connecticut, Vermont and Rhode Island were included in the makeup of the Division. The 172d Infantry with the 206th Field Artillery (105H) with elements of other combat support units made up the Vermont allocation. The Division Headquarters, 102d and 169th Infantry regiments with the 963d Field Artillery (105H0 and the 192d Field Artillery (105H) with detachments of combat support were organized in Connecticut. In addition, the 143d Tank Battalion joined the Division from that state. In Rhode Island the 43d Division Artillery Headquarters, the 103d FA (155H), the 118th Engineer Battalion (C) and the 43d Signal Company plus elements of combat support units made up that state's contribution.
In September 1950 the Division once again answered the call of the President when the North Koreans invaded South Korea. After intensive training at Camp Pickett, Virginia, the 43d deployed to Germany to join the NATO forces containing the Warsaw Pact nations in western Europe. Training, extensive field maneuvers, and the occupation of blocking positions were the Division's lot for almost three years. In 1953 the 43d was redesignated the 5th Infantry Division. The colors of the 43d were returned to Hartford, Connecticut with appropriate ceremonies.
In 1953 a reconstituted Division took its place with the other National Guard Divisions on the Army's rolls. In 1963, in one of the many down-sizings of the Armed Forces, the Division left active National Guard service. The 43d Infantry Division Veterans Association continues today that prestigious heritage with its 1600 plus members.