Lt. General Alpha L. Bowser (USMC)

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Alpha Lyons Bowser

Birthdate: (93)
Death: 2003 (93)
Immediate Family:

Son of Alpha Lyons Bowser and Gertrude A. Bowser

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About Lt. General Alpha L. Bowser (USMC)

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.


Alpha Lyons Bowser 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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lt. General Alpha L. Bowser (USMC)'s Timeline

Age 93