ROSS ERASTUS ROWELL, USMC
Lieutenant General Ross E. Rowell a highly decorated Marine aviator, died in the U.S. Naval Hospital in San Diego on 6 September 1947. He had retired from the Marine Corps after 40 years of service on 1 November 1946.
Lieutenant General Rowell was born 24 September 1884, at Ruthven, Iowa, and attended grade and high schools there. He was graduated from Iowa State College and then studied electrical engineering for two years at the University of Idaho. Before his appointment as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in August 1906, he worked for two years as topographer and draftsman for the U.S. Geological Survey at Sanke River Valley, Idaho.
General Rowell became successively a first lieutenant in November 1908, a captain in September 1914, a major in October 1917, a lieutenant colonel in August 1932, a colonel in June 1935, a brigadier general in December 1939, and a major general in January 1942.
In addition to duty at various posts in this country and extensive sea duty, General Rowell served abroad in Cuba, the Philippine Islands, Nicaragua, France, Haiti, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and in Cairo, Egypt, as Assistant Naval Attache and Assistant Naval Attache for Air to the American Embassy in London.
General Rowell served as Commanding General, Marine Aircraft Wings, Pacific, from the opening of the Guadalcanal campaign, in August 1942, until Japanese air power was driven from the Bismarck-Solomons in 1944. In October 1944, he assumed the duties of Chief of the U.S. Naval Aviation Mission to Peru, a post he held until his retirement in November 1946.
General Rowell had been a Marine airman since his designation as Student Naval Aviator in 1923, when he underwent flight training at Pensacola, Florida, and at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas.
General Rowell's air command won the Schiff Trophy in 1926, 1932, and again in 1933. He led the Marine Air Detachment at the International Air Races at Chicago in September 1933, and in the All-American Air Races at Miami, Florida, in January, 1935, achieving commendable performances on both occasions.
General Rowell was commended by the Secretary of the Navy for making the highest bombing score during the gunnery year 1924-25, and in 1926 he was praised by the Marine Corps Commandant for the high state of efficiency prevailing at the Naval Air Station at San Diego, California, where he then was group commander.
The Distinguished Flying Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal were awarded to Major General Rowell for extraordinary heroism and exceptionally meritorious service in action against hostile Nicaraguan bandits during 1927-28. In September, 1944, he was awarded the Legion of Merit for outstanding service as Commanding General, Marine Aircraft Wings Pacific, during the period from August 1942 to September 1944.
His other decorations include the Cuban Pacification Medal, Expeditionary Medal with two bronze stars (Panama, 1909, Nicaragua, 1914, and Haiti, 1921), the Victory Medal with West Indies clasp, the Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal, the Nicaraguan Medal of Distinction and Diploma, the Nicaraguan Medal of Merit, the Nicaraguan Ribbon with star, the American Defense Service Medal, and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal.