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The Last Sortie

[Photo] Robert Harrison Fowler (779) in uniform.

Robert Harrison Fowler, 779th

15 April 2010

[Photo] Robert Harrison Fowler, 779.

   Robert Harrison Fowler went to be with his Lord on April 15, 2010. Robert was born on 20 Feb. 1919 in the community of Old Runnels, Texas to Jessie E. Fowler and Lenora S. Fowler. He very much enjoyed growing up and working with his eight brothers and sisters on the family farm and ranch on Elm Creek. Robert graduated from Ballinger High School, enlisted in the T-Patch, Division of the Texas National Guard, and attended John Tarleton Agricultural College for two years.
   World War II interrupted his studies and he transferred to the Army Air Corps for pilot training. During this period his romance with Evelyn M. Batts brought a proposal and a marriage of 68 wonderful, fulfilling years. Early in the war he flew anti-submarine patrols from Jacksonville, Fla., where their son, Robert Harrison II was born. Robert completed 50 combat missions in B-24 Liberator bombers in the 464th Bombardment Group. He flew from Pantanella, Italy over German occupied territories. On one mission over Austria his B-24, the "Flack Man," was credited with six Messerschmitt ME 109 "kills" and three "probables." For his war valor he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and four Air Medals.
   After the end of the war Robert returned to Ballinger to begin his own farming endeavors and he was also employed by the Soil Conservation Service. War again forced a change in his plans as he was recalled to active duty by the US Air Force at the initiation of the Korean Conflict. He remained on active duty and he, Maurine and Rob, enjoyed assignments in Texas, Mississippi, France, Morocco, Georgia and Massachusetts. He served in many capacities in flying operations as well as in civil engineering. He retired from active duty as a colonel in 1967 with 30 years of service.
   Returning again to Ballinger, Robert actively pursued his farming interest and developing his property on Spur Creek. He resumed his employment with the Soil Conservation Service and the efforts of his soil management and water conservation expertise are evident today throughout Runnels County. He thoroughly enjoyed that part of his life and retired from the US Department of Agriculture in 1989. He was the Administrator of the Old Runnels Cemetery for many years, revitalizing its solvency and landscape.
   Robert and Maurine were active members of the First Methodist Church and participated in many church activities. They were enthusiastic in hosting the eagerly awaited annual Batts reunions at "Panther Lake" on their farm. Many dear memories of those events are cherished by the extended family of aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. He took great pride in documenting his family histories. His two granddaughters were the special lights in his life rivaled only by the arrival of his great grandchildren. He cherished reminiscing about shared combat experiences with fellow aircrew members at WWII Bomb Group Reunions. Robert was a lifetime member of the Society of American Military Engineers, the American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
   Robert was preceded in death by his parents; siblings, J.E., Virginia Murphy, Louise Flanagan, Henry, Ross, and James. He is survived by his wife Maurine Batts Fowler of Ballinger, Texas; son, Robert and wife Patti of Austin, Texas; granddaughters, Cynthia Dover and husband, Derek of Cypress, Texas, and Rebecca Millstone and husband, Daniel or Frisco, Texas; a sister, Mary Anne Hale and husband Charly of Brownwood Texas, and a brother David and wife Donna of San Angelo, Texas; and three great grandchildren.
   Funeral services were held Sunday,18 April 2010 at the First Methodist Church in Ballinger, Texas. Burial followed at the Old Runnels Cemetery. Arrangements were made by the Lange Funeral Home. The family would like to thank caregivers Joelda Cuellar and Rosemarie Cowan for their extended services and most recently Minnie Cortez. The family would also like to thank Batlinger Home Health, Vista Care and Dr. Dawn Gonzales.

    [Editor's note: I received the following information from Rob, Robert's son, and felt it was definitely worth mentioning, here. I think it is a pertinent and interesting part of our Group's history.
   Rob wrote: "PS: As an addendum to 464th history, I was the first born to a member of the Bomb Group."]

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