ALBANY -- On Tuesday, January 10, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Lee Bowman (Ret.) passed away at the age of 93 while residing at Lee County Health and Rehabilitation in Leesburg.
Charles Lee Bowman was born on November 18, 1918 in Hickory, NC to Mr. and Mrs. George W. Bowman. He had four siblings; Mrs. Harrison Reid, of Hickory, NC (deceased), Mr. Elmer H. Bowman of Ashville, NC (deceased), Mrs. Jake Parks of Hickory, NC (deceased), and Mrs. William Hefner of Dalton, GA.
In 1936, Bowman graduated Claremont Central High School in Hickory, NC. Shortly afterward, he earned his A.B. of Sciences degree at Lenoir Rhyne College in Hickory, NC, and then he joined the United States Army Air Corps in 1940. He trained as a combat pilot, and completed a distinguished career of military service in the United States Air Force that took him all over the world.
During World War II, Bowman flew B-25 Mitchell bombers in the Asiatic Pacific Theater with the 3rd Bombardment Group. He also flew Martin B-26 Marauder bombers in the European Theater with the 98th Combat Wing, 323rd Bombardment Group. Additionally, he was a pilot in the 4th Combat Camera Unit. He extended his combat service in the Korean War with the 19th Bombardment Wing, where he piloted B-29 Superfortress bombers. Bowman took great pride in the fact that he was never shot down.
Lt. Col. Bowman participated in numerous history-making events throughout his military service, including transporting and accompanying the first American camera crew to Berlin to explore and photograph Hitler's secret bunker very shortly after he committed suicide. Bowman also transported Hermann Goring to the Nuremberg Trials, where he was convicted of numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity. Goring was the Nazi commander of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force), founder of the Gestapo, and the man Hitler once named as his successor. Whenever Bowman reflected upon that experience, he would state that he shook Goring's hand, and made sure he "gave him a soft landing."
While he was stationed at Turner Field in Albany, Bowman met native Albanian Jule LeGreve, and they married on June 22, 1946 at First United Methodist Church in Albany. They raised two daughters, Linda and Nancy, while he continued to serve his country. Upon ending his tour of combat duty, Bowman continued working stateside as a recruiter for the USAF.
During his 24 years of distinguished military service, Bowman was honored with several medals, many of which were multiple decorations. These decorations and citations include: Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster; Philippine Defense Medal with One Bronze Star; Asiatic Pacific Medal with Three Battle Stars; Presidential Unit Citation with Cluster; American Defense Medal; European Theater Medal with Five Battle Stars; United Nations Service Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Armed Forces Reserve Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Korean Service Medal; Air Force Longevity Service Award; and Purple Heart. Upon his retirement from the USAF in 1964, he was given the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and years later he was awarded the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster.
Bowman and his wife decided to settle in Albany after he retired from the USAF in 1964. Bowman became a licensed real estate broker, and he served on the Albany Board of Realtors. Over the years he worked at Slappey Realty, Gunnels Realty, and D. Owens Realty. His family joined First United Methodist Church, and he has maintained his membership to this day. Lt. Col. Bowman enjoyed participating in other local organizations. He was a Charter Member of Doublegate Country Club, where he frequently enjoyed playing golf. He also belonged to the Dougherty County Kiwanis Club.
Lt. Col. Bowman was predeceased by his wife, Jule LeGreve Bowman. He is survived by his two daughters, Linda Bowman Moncrief (David) and Nancy Bowman Ventulett (John) both of Albany. He also is survived by his youngest sister, Mrs. William Hefner of Dalton, GA. Lt. Col. Bowman leaves five grandchildren: Laura Haley Creel (Howe) of Anderson, SC, Lee Haley Jones (Tyler), Brian Andrew Young, Brett Allen Young (Elizabeth), and John LeGreve Young, all of Atlanta. He leaves four great-grandchildren, William Carmichael Jones, Elizabeth Haley Jones, Whitney Ola Young, and Fiona LeGreve Young, all of Atlanta. In addition he leaves a step-granddaughter, Katherine Ventulett Hernacki (Michael) and two step-great grandchildren, John Baxter Hernacki and Laurel Esther Cowgill, all of Atlanta. He also leaves behind several nieces and nephews.
Lt. Col. Bowman requested a private, graveside service for family members. However, those who wish to share their sentiments with his family are welcome to come to the visitation, which will occur from 4-6 PM on Thursday, January 12 at Kimbrell-Stern Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, those who wish to send a memoriam are respectfully requested to make charitable contributions to First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 448, Albany, GA 31702, or to the charity of their choice.
Lt. Col. Bowman's family wants to publicly thank the staff of Lee County Health and Rehabilitation for all their care, kindness, and concern shown to him during his time there.
You may sign the online guestbook and share your own special memories with the family of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Lee Bowman (Ret.) by visiting Kimbrell-Stern's website at www.kimbrellstern.com.
Kimbrell-Stern Funeral Directors