Marine planned
famous war campaigns

Retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Alpha L. Bowser, architect of the Saipan invasion in World War II and the Inchon landing in the Korean War, died Sunday at his Kailua home. He was 92.

art Committal services will be held 11:30 a.m. Friday at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl.

Bowser "really personified the term 'officer and a gentleman,'" said Bob Talmadge, president of the Aloha chapter of the Chosin Few. "He was very likable and got along with everyone." The Chosin Few was established to honor those who fought in the battle of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea during November-December 1950.

Bowser, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1932 and was commissioned in the Marine Corps, retired from active duty on June 30, 1967.

Bowser served during the New Georgia operation in August 1943, and was the training and operations officer of the 3rd Marine Division during the Bougainville operation in November and December 1943, for which he earned his first Bronze Star Medal. He received his second Bronze Star Medal during the recapture of Guam, and his first Legion of Merit with Combat "V" during the Iwo Jima campaign.

Bowser joined the staff of Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, in Honolulu in 1949, serving here until July 1950, when he was ordered to Korea. There, he served as assistant chief of staff of the 1st Marine Division. During the Inchon-Seoul and Chosin Reservoir actions, he was awarded a second and third Legion of Merit with Combat "V."

Talmadge said that as operations officer, Bowser was responsible for planning the attack on Chosin Reservoir, considered one of the bloodiest campaigns in modern warfare. It pitted about 15,000 allied ground troops, mostly the 1st Marine Division and regimental combat teams from the Army's 7th Infantry Division, against 120,000 Chinese infantrymen around the valley town of Yudam-ni. The allies suffered 12,000 casualties, including more than 3,000 killed and 6,000 wounded. The Chinese suffered an estimated 37,500 casualties, including 25,000 killed and 12,500 wounded.

Talmadge said he believed that Bowser was the most senior officer who survived the campaign.

He later commanded the Recruit Training Command at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, then served as the commander of Marine Forces Atlantic from July 1965 until his retirement in 1967.

Bowser was born in Crafton, Pa. He is survived by wife Betty B. and her children, daughter Joan B. DeLon, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Donations suggested to Hospice Hawaii or charity.


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