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ISLAND HISTORY: Sgt. “Bowdy” Bowden served on Kaua‘i during World War II

Over 40,000 American soldiers and Marines were stationed on Kaua‘i during World War II, where the Army set up camps, training areas and firing ranges to prepare troops for combat in the Pacific, while the Marine Corps constructed a camp at Wailua.

Sgt. Harold “Bowdy” Bowden Jr., (1922-2008) a member of the Army Signal Corps, arrived at Barking Sands, Kaua‘i in Oct. 1943 to serve with the 1st Signal Service Co. (AVN).

At Barking Sands, the Army had established an air base from which B-17 and B-24 bombers, and C-47 and C-53 transport aircraft flew missions to reinforce Pacific battle zones.

Besides its two 6,000-foot airstrips, other structures at Barking Sands during World War II included base headquarters and air-operations buildings, a control tower, an enlisted barracks, officers quarters, mess halls, latrines, warehouses and storage sheds, a chapel, dispensary, fire station, gas station, post exchange and movie theater.

Bowdy served at Barking Sands only briefly prior to participating in the Marshall Islands campaign of February 1944.

Many years later and still vivid in his memory was his recollection of an awful incident he experienced in the Marshalls.

On one occasion a young officer ordered him and other signalmen to throw several dead Japanese soldiers lying on a beach into the sea, but the corpses washed back up.

The signalmen were then ordered to bury the bodies, which soon poisoned the groundwater, after which Bowdy rigged gutters on their tents to catch rainwater for drinking.

Bowdy returned to duty at Barking Sands in early 1944 and remained on Kaua‘i until July 1945, when he departed for the mainland to be honorably discharged as a sergeant.

While on Kaua‘i, he enjoyed sightseeing and visiting the USO, which operated eight clubs on Kaua‘i during World War II that provided canteens, regular dances, mobile shows, live entertainment and athletic programs for military personnel.

As a civilian back home in North Tonawanda, New York, Bowdy resumed his pre-war trade as a plumber.

He and his wife, Charlotte Place Bowden, had three children: James, Harold and Frances.
Source: The Garden Island

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