Bowlan, David Orval, MSgt

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Master Sergeant
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
AAF MOS 737-Flight Engineer
Last AFSC Group
Air Crew (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1946-1950, Air Force Reserve Command
Service Years
1941 - 1953
Enlisted Collar Insignia
Master Sergeant

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by A3C Michael S. Bell to remember Bowlan, David Orval, MSgt.

If you knew or served with this Airman and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Carlisle, AR
Last Address
Redfield, AR

Date of Passing
Feb 29, 2012
Location of Interment
Hamilton Cemetery - Carlisle, Arkansas
Wall/Plot Coordinates

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
Civil Air PatrolVeterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW)
  2012, Civil Air Patrol [Verified] - Assoc. Page
  2012, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) [Verified] - Assoc. Page

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

David Orval Bowlan, 89, of Redfield, Arkansas, joined the Church Triumphant on February 29, 2012.  Loving father, grandfather, brother, friend, and American hero, David Bowlan was a true example of the strength, tenacity, and fierce loyalty to family and country displayed by “The Greatest Generation.” From the rural farming community of Hamilton (near Carlisle) to a German Stalag, from the skies of Korea to aircraft manufacturing factories in Kansas and Alabama, from days of flying for the Civil Air Patrol in Little Rock to his last years in Redfield where David and his wife Brinda lived next door to their daughter Melissa. David Bowlan lived life with grace, courage, integrity, and humility fitting the true Southern gentleman and patriot his family, colleagues, and friends knew and respected.

At the onset of World War II, 19-year-old David Bowlan enlisted into the Army Air Corps.  He would later remember the day in which he and his fellow Corpsmen were summoned into formation, given new caps, and then dismissed.  This was the day they became members of the United States Air Force.  He was later deployed to Italy.  On his 25th flight over Weinemeustad, Austria as a Tech Sergeant, Top Turret Gunner, and Flight Engineer, his B-24 took enemy anti-aircraft fire.  With the plane ablaze David parachuted to safety as one of three survivors out of a twelve man crew, but was later apprehended by German soldiers.  He was imprisoned in German Stalag IV after being hospitalized for two months in Frankfurt for injuries sustained from the burning plane and subsequent jump.  While imprisoned, a Red Cross parcel would lend him one of his greatest life “treasures,” a pocket Bible.  During the 342 days as a German prisoner of war, David read his Bible from cover to cover. When the little Bible became so tattered it was in danger of falling apart, David sewed the tail of his shirt to the cover to keep the pages together.  He kept the Bible for the remaining years of his life, even carrying it on the forced prisoner, “March Across Germany,” or “Black March.” The prisoners of war were liberated by the English Army on April 16, 1945. 

Following his release from the Air Force, David returned home to farm in Carlisle and later moved to Conway to attend Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas ) and the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.  When the Korean Conflict began he was called up as a Reservist and became a Flight Engineer for planes that carried food and ammunition to the troops on the front line in Korea.  During a routine mission, David’s plane took enemy fire and he was wounded in the arm.  For his distinguished military service, David was awarded three Purple Hearts, an Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, an “Areas of Operation” medal (American, European, and VFW), a POW medal, a presidential citation from President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a Korean theatre work medal. 

Following the Korean Conflict, David moved to Wichita, Kansas and married Lee Cowan on February 4, 1951.  She preceded him in death on November 29, 1987.  Two sons were born to this marriage, Ronald and Richard.  David continued his commitment to government service by working as a quality assurance specialist in the manufacturing of aircraft for the government. After retirement, David continued to work in the aircraft industry. At the age of 65 he finally decided to earn his pilot’s wings and would later greatly enjoy flying for the Civil Air Patrol and with his son, Rick. 

David became a Mason in 1946 and has been active in the Shrine since 1947.

David married Brinda L. Hawes on July 1, 1989.  They have a daughter, Melissa Vernor, and a son, Richard Crane. In the years following his move to Little Rock and later Redfield, David enjoyed speaking to elementary school children, telling the stories of his service, but more importantly conveying to the youngest generation the importance of freedom.  Interviewed in 2005 after speaking to his daughter’s first grade class, David remarked, “I hope the children will consider every week ‘Freedom Week’ in this wonderful country in which we live.” After his visit that day, and the visits that would come, many children (and now adults) may do just that.

Survivors include his wife, Brinda, of the home; three sons, Ronald E. Bowlan (Dolores) of Harleysville, PA, Richard K. Bowlan (Debra) of Alachua, FL, and Richard E. Crane (Misty) of Rose Bud, AR; daughter, Melissa Vernor (Jeff) of Redfield; three grandchildren, Ashley Crane, Gabi Vernor, and Logan Crane; and sister, Thelma Bowlan Miller of Troy, TN. 

David was preceded in death by wife, Lee Bowlan; his parents, Atlee B. and Olive Bowlan; and brother, T.B. Bowlan.

Visitation will be Friday, from 5-8 p.m. at Ralph Robinson & Son Funeral Home in Pine Bluff.  The funeral service will be held on Saturday, March 3, 2012 at 2 p.m. at Hamilton Baptist Church (south of Carlisle) with Rev. Donald Lee Ruffin, officiating. Interment will follow at Hamilton Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the David O. Bowlan Memorial Scholarship Fund, Pine Bluff National Bank, Attn: Janice Acosta, P.O. box 7878, Pine Bluff, Arkansas 71611.

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Korean War
From Month/Year
June / 1950
To Month/Year
July / 1953

The Korean War; 25 June 1950 – 27 July 1953) began when North Korea invaded South Korea. The United Nations, with the United States as the principal force, came to the aid of South Korea. China came to the aid of North Korea, and the Soviet Union gave some assistance.

Korea was ruled by Japan from 1910 until the closing days of World War II. In August 1945, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, as a result of an agreement with the United States, and liberated Korea north of the 38th parallel. U.S. forces subsequently moved into the south. By 1948, as a product of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, Korea was split into two regions, with separate governments. Both governments claimed to be the legitimate government of all of Korea, and neither side accepted the border as permanent. The conflict escalated into open warfare when North Korean forces—supported by the Soviet Union and China—moved into the south on 25 June 1950. On that day, the United Nations Security Council recognized this North Korean act as invasion and called for an immediate ceasefire. On 27 June, the Security Council adopted S/RES/83: Complaint of aggression upon the Republic of Korea and decided the formation and dispatch of the UN Forces in Korea. Twenty-one countries of the United Nations eventually contributed to the UN force, with the United States providing 88% of the UN's military personnel.

After the first two months of the conflict, South Korean forces were on the point of defeat, forced back to the Pusan Perimeter. In September 1950, an amphibious UN counter-offensive was launched at Inchon, and cut off many of the North Korean troops. Those that escaped envelopment and capture were rapidly forced back north all the way to the border with China at the Yalu River, or into the mountainous interior. At this point, in October 1950, Chinese forces crossed the Yalu and entered the war. Chinese intervention triggered a retreat of UN forces which continued until mid-1951.

After these reversals of fortune, which saw Seoul change hands four times, the last two years of conflict became a war of attrition, with the front line close to the 38th parallel. The war in the air, however, was never a stalemate. North Korea was subject to a massive bombing campaign. Jet fighters confronted each other in air-to-air combat for the first time in history, and Soviet pilots covertly flew in defense of their communist allies.

The fighting ended on 27 July 1953, when an armistice was signed. The agreement created the Korean Demilitarized Zone to separate North and South Korea, and allowed the return of prisoners. However, no peace treaty has been signed, and the two Koreas are technically still at war. Periodic clashes, many of which are deadly, have continued to the present.
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Month/Year
June / 1950
To Month/Year
July / 1953
Last Updated:
Mar 16, 2020
Personal Memories
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
No Available Photos

  1196 Also There at This Battle:
  • Adams, Billy H., Capt, (1944-1970)
  • Adams, Harold (Jim), TSgt, (1951-1971)
  • Adler, Junior Merle, 1st Lt, (1950-1951)
  • Adolf, Gerald (Jerry), SMSgt, (1953-1980)
  • Allston, James Hartford, 2nd Lt, (1951-1953)
  • Austin, Arthur Myles, Maj, (1939-1951)
  • Ballard, Dewey, Col
  • Barboza, John, TSgt, (1952-1973)
  • Beaulieu, Paul, CMSgt, (1949-1981)
  • Bennett, James, Col, (1940-1976)
  • Bennett, Jr., Chauncey Aubrey, Capt, (1950-1951)
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