From: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships


Born in Ellensburg, Wash., 25 September 1915, Robert Keith Bowers enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1940 and was commissioned an Ensign and appointed a Naval Aviator 12 December 1940. Ensign Bowers was killed in action on board California (BB-44) at Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941.

(DE-637: dp. 1400; l. 306'; b. 36'10"; dr. 13'6"; s. 24 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 3 21" TT.; cl. Buckley)

Bowers (DE-637) was launched 31 October 1943 by Bethlehem Steel Co., San Francisco, Calif.; sponsored by Mrs. P. A. Bowers, mother of Ensign Bowers; and commissioned 27 January 1944, Lieutenant Commander F. W. Hawes in command.

Assigned to the Pacific Fleet, Bowers arrived at Pearl Harbor 6 April 1944. After escorting a convoy to Majuro Atoll she proceeded to New Guinea where she performed patrol and convoy escort duties between May and June 1944. Bowers then moved to the northern Solomons where she assisted in their consolidation during June-October. With the completion of her duties in the Solomons, Bowers sailed north to take part in the invasion of Leyte, remaining in the area until 14 November. After another spell of convoy duty in the Southwestern Pacific, she served on patrol and picket duty during the Okinawa operation (25 March-24 April 1945). On 17 April after two planes had been splashed, a suicide plane hit her bridge. Bowers suffered 48 men killed and 59 wounded, many fatally. After temporary repairs at Kerama Retto she steamed, via Pearl Harbor, San Diego, and the Panama Canal, to Philadelphia Navy Yard for permanent repairs and conversion into a highspeed transport. She was reclassified APD-40, 25 June 1945.

Bowers got underway 19 September 1945 following conversion for a training cruise to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She returned to Philadelphia 25 October and then proceeded to Green Cove Springs, Fla., where she was placed out of commission in reserve 10 February 1947.

Recommissioned 6 February 1951, Bowers joined Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet. Between March 1951 and November 1953 Bowers made one midshipmen cruise to Europe, operated with various units of the Marine Corps in amphibious training exercises; and transported several underwater demolition teams to the Caribbean for training. In May 1954 she joined the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean for a five month cruise. She reported to the 6th Naval District in March 1955 and served as a Naval Reserve training ship until placed out of commission in reserve 18 December 1958.

Bowers received four battle stars during World War II.