Many new sailors on the U.S.S. Arizona were subjected to one hot, dirty, unending task — cleaning her wood decks. They not only washed them, they used bricks and sand to grind them spotless.
“I believe what I’ve heard, that a person in white clothes can lay on the deck and never get dirty,” Howard Alton Bowman wrote home. “I am a top-sideman and do I know how to scrub decks.”
Mr. Bowman enlisted in the Navy on Oct. 15, 1940, and was a seaman second class when he was killed on Dec. 7, 1941, in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
He was born Sept. 29, 1919 in Canada but moved to Coon Rapids, Iowa, about two years later. His father, Dennis R. Bowman, was a retired farmer by the time the 1940 Census was conducted and his mother, Florence A. Tuel Bowman, a homemaker.
Mr. Bowman, known as Howdy, graduated from the local high school in 1939. He played football and baseball and sang in the boys glee club and quartet and in the mixed chorus.
A memorial service for him was held in January 1942 at the Methodist church in Coon Rapids.
Sources: American Legion Commander Martin Paulsen’s 2009 Memorial Day speech, as published in the Coon Rapids Enterprise; the Daily Times Herald of Carroll, Iowa; Navy muster roll; Census; Saskatchewan birth index. Naval History and Heritage Command photo. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.