Captain Alva "Al" Manly Bowen Jr., 86, USN (Ret.), died December 14 at Ginger Cove Health Center of Cancer. He was born February 24, 1925 in a small cottage in author Joel Chandler Harris's back yard in Atlanta, GA. He attended Newnan Georgia Public School, the U.S. Naval Academy, where he graduated in June 1945, the National War College, and GWU, where he graduated in 1970 with a M.S. in International Affairs.
His naval career covered 1945 through 1975 where he commanded minesweepers, destroyers, and a cruiser and was chief engineer of an aircraft carrier. There were five deployments of five months or more to the Mediterranean, four to West Pacific, three of these were during the Vietnam War. He was part of UNITAS Eleven, Politico-military circumnavigation of South America, while CO of the flagship, USS Harry E. Yarnell. He exercised Naval Base-use agreements with South American countries, and was a member of the office of the Secretary of the Navy Surface Missile Systems Project manager- Human Factors Engineer for Aegis, a Weapons System Development and Program Manager for weapons personnel in the Bureau of Naval Personnel, and part of the office of the Chief of Naval Operations-Director of Surface Warfare Programs and Plans. At the CNO level, Al oversaw mining of North Vietnam's harbors and subsequent minesweeping operations, and directed planning for the post Vietnam War makeover of our surface navy. Al also received the Bronze Star (V), Legion of Merit.
Al's civilian career included Specialist in International Politics and National Security with the Congressional Research Service of Library of Congress. As Deputy Director of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division, he conducted policy research for Congressional offices and committees on the defense budget, arms control, Panama Canal Treaty, Philippine bases. He took part in negotiations and other foreign policy issues related to East Asia or Latin America.
Al was a member of NPC, U.S. Naval Institute, Lost Patrol, Navy Sailing Association(s), and the Military Order of the Carabou. He enjoyed offshore and local yacht racing and was the offshore sailing coach with the Naval Academy Sailing Squadron for 20 years. His hobbies included the Ham radio and writing.
Al was preceded in death by his wife Delavan Rawlins (Delly), whom he married in 1947 and who died in December 2006. He is survived by his son, Gerry Bowen; daughter, Julia Toney; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held 11 a.m., Tuesday, January 3 at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel. Internment will follow in the columbarium. Arrangements by John M. Taylor Funeral Home. Online condolences may be made to www.johnmtaylorfuneralhome.com.
Memorial donations may be made to Ginger Cove Foundation or Hospice of the Chesapeake.