Following graduation from the Naval Academy in 1910, Pownall served briefly in the Mississippi (BB-23), Missouri (BB-11), Ammen (DD-35), and Reid (DD-21). During World War I he commanded the Roe (DD-24) and Vedette (SP-163), and after the war, the John D. Ford (DD-228). After flight training, he was designated a naval aviator in 1927. He then served as navigator in the Saratoga (CV-3), air officer in the Lexington (CV-2), and had duty on the staffs of Commander in Chief Battle Fleet and Commander Aircraft Squadrons Battle Fleet. He was executive officer of the Ranger (CV-4), and skipper of the Enterprise (CV-6) from 1938-41. During World War II he served as Commander Patrol Plane Replacement Squadrons, Patrol Wings, Pacific Fleet; Commander Fleet Air, West Coast; Commander Carrier Division Three; Commander Air Force Pacific Fleet; and Chief of Naval Air Training Command. His final tours, before retirement in 1949, were as Commander Marianas and naval governor of Guam.
Awards and Citations
Navy Cross Awarded for actions during World War I
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant Commander Charles Alan Pownall, United States Navy, for distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. VEDETTE, engaged in the important exacting and hazardous duty of transporting and escorting troops and supplies through waters infested with enemy submarines and mines during World War I.
Action Date: World War I Service: Navy Rank: Lieutenant Commander Company: Commanding Officer Division: U.S.S. Vedette