Bowers, Fred 1998-06-29

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Lubbock plaintiff lawyer Forrest Bowers recalls his experiences as an attorney and the cases in which he was involved. These tapes also include a lengthy discussion of his World War II experiences and duties as a fighter pilot in the Pacific Theater. One noteworthy experience in this regard was his witnessing the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan.

General Interview Information

Interviewee Name: Fred Bowers

Additional Parties Recorded:

Date: June 29 and August 8, 1998

Location: Lubbock, Texas

Interviewer: Fred Allison

Length: 4 hours


Tape 1, Side 1: Bowers, Fred, background, b. June 4, 1924, Scurry County, Texas, Dunn Community, Attended Dunn High School, Played football, Opponents, Schoolmates all farm children, Work, Turned school out for harvesting, Siblings, Great Depression experience, Family Model T put on blocks, Used horse drawn wagon to go to Snyder, Texas, Dunn Community, description, Various stores and businesses, Streets, Dunn Hotel, Story of Mr. Snyder (founder of Snyder, Texas) stayed there, Railhead at Colorado City, Texas, 1/2 way between Colorado City and Snyder, Bowers, Fred (again), Perspective on Great Depression, Food plentiful, Raised own food and livestock, Staples: red beans and cornbread, Father sold 80 acre farm and rented another 80 acres to his sister, Farm 1 mile north of Dunn, House, nice and new, 3 bedroom, No indoor plumbing or electricity, 1938 REA brought electricity, Impact, Radio, Entertainment, Swimming in creek, Drivers license at age 14, Car dating, Dated neighbor girls, Parents little concerned, Went to Snyder and drove around, Movies, Parking and courting, Snyder, Texas, Population 3,000-5,000, Modern, Graduated: May 1941, Dunn School building, described, 50 year reunion, 7 in class, all still alive, Pecking order still the same, 4 boys in class all went into the Air Corps, School newspaper, Playing football, Injury, 11 man football, Editor, early interest in law, Father suggested becoming a preacher or lawyer, Graduating class, Boys that became pilots, Flew B-17s and B-24s, Both mother and fathers' family from East Texas, Dunn Community, background (again), Mother's family, Richardsons, earliest settlers in Dunn, Father came originally, 1909, Preferred West Texas, Class reunion (again), Recounting experiences, Quarterback and halfback on football team, Attended Tarleton Agricultural College, Military school, Cousin, Doug Brown also attended, Became B-17 pilot, and later Baptist preacher, Cousin who became B-24 pilot, Friend 'Jo-Jo', Dated in school, Died of cancer, Class reunions (again), Annually, Discussion of Air Corps records, Separation from service, February, 1946, First lieutenant, Total combat missions, 30-33, World War II service, Japan beaten when got to combat theater, No enemy aircraft, Disappointed, Based in Ryukus

Tape 1, Side 2: Bowers, Fred (continued), Graduated from high school, age 16, Attended John Tarleton Agricultural College on scholarship, Covered tuition, $50/month, Working, National Youth Administration, Work at poultry farm, $24.75/month, Military training and classes, Commissioned in cadet corps, Taught how to march, Signed up for Air Corps, March, 1943, Infantry training, His generation's love for aviation, Influence of picture of P-51 airplane in Life magazine, Riding with barnstormer at age 10, Declared his intentions to fly to roommate, To Dallas, Texas, to join, Spending night in hotel, Sharing bed with stranger, Passed exams, Cousin, Jeff Lavells joined also, Military training, To school in Wichita, Kansas, Cousin finished flight school before him, Examinations, Physical, Good vision, Graduated from Foster, Field, Victoria,Texas, Asked for P-51 and Pacific theater and got them both, Flew P-40s at Ft. Sumner, New Mexico, Flew P-51 first time in New Guinea, Flight training, Primary at Coleman, Texas, Aircraft, PT-19, Gosport tube, Soloing, Unique experience, Civilian instructors, Final check ride, Recurrence of football injury, Sent to San Antonio, Texas for reclassification, To Perrin Field, Sherman, Texas, Attrition rate, 50%, Surplus of pilots, Ground looping an AT-6, Flew BT-13s, Flying with friends, Numerous accidents, Night flying especially hazardous in P-40s, Lack of experience, Lack of forward vision, 12 pilots killed at Ft. Sumner in 6 months, Flying the P-40, Flew alone 1st time, Slow rear retraction, P-51 much faster, Preparations before first flight, Memorization of procedures, Sensations, Starting, taxiing, Exciting, Supercharger

Tape 2, Side 1: Bowers, Fred (continued), Flying P-51 (continued), No water injection as in radials, First flight, Landed fast, Approach speed, Stalls, Duty in Danzab, New Guinea, March or April, 1945, Stationed there, 5 weeks, Assigned to photo-reconnaissance outfit at Lingayen Gulf, Philippines, 5 or 6 combat missions, Cameras in P-51s, Took pictures in morning, attacked in afternoon, Commanding officer of squadron had shot down 7 Japanese planes, Requested transfer from unit, Commander's response, Assigned to 341st Fighter Squadron, 348th Fighter Group, Flew first mission when only 20 years old, Mission to Formosa, Strafing Japanese airfield , Flew very low, Did not make 2nd pass, Ran out of bullets, Mid-air collision, Rescue operation, PBY aircraft involved, One pilot killed, Other group had two planes shot down, Flight leader court martialed 40-50 packed aircraft on field, Photo squadron shot down aircraft, Received ground fire on every mission, Japanese bomber took out 15 planes, Sent to Clark Field, Philippines to pick-up new P-51, Return flight, B-25 pathfinder, Flying through storm, Trying to fly under storm, Perspiration, Close formation, high speed, Some crashed in ocean, Search mission, Friend who crashed, Japanese gave military funeral, Flying missions after the war was over, Combat missions in Philippines, Bombing and strafing, Short missions, 2 hours, Flying over Florida Blanca, 348th Group, all P-51s, had flown P-47s earlier, Pilots preference, Logo of 341st Squadron, Lingayen Gulf base, Runways, Had house boy, Kept tent clean and washed clothes, Air raid sirens, Florida Blanca, Reason for wanting to fly in Pacific instead of Europe, Wanted to see action, war almost over, Begged Japanese to come up and fight, Taunts to Japanese

Tape 2, Side 2: Bowers, Fred (continued), Preparation for combat, 6 months flying P-40s, Practice attacks on B-29s from Clovis, New Mexico, P-40s couldn't keep up, Escort missions for B-29s over Japan, P-51s called "pea shooters", Base at Ie Shima was 500 miles from Japan, Navigation, Escorted B-24s also, Then attacked targets of opportunity, Civilian casualties, Inevitable, History of bombings, Japanese had to be convinced of American threat, Atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, Details, Fellow pilots' response, Observing flash and cloud, Debriefing with Intelligence Officer, Announcement later that night, Japanese surrender announcement, Observed Japanese peace delegation enroute to Philippines, Nagasaki atomic bomb (again), 10-20 B-29s, Rendezvous south of Japan, Protecting B-29s, Japanese ground fire plentiful and accurate, Techniques, Never got hit, Japanese controlled territory north of airfield, Close call of friend, Friend's call for evasive action, Squadron losses (341st Squadron), Nickname 'Snake', To hide identity, Friends' names, Flying air support for American troops, Close air support described, Marking the target, Proximity of friendly troops, Bombing and strafing, Carried 2,500 pound bombs, Noise machine guns made, Dangers, Target fascination', Training at Ft. Sumner, New Mexico, Bombing, Aerial gunnery, Bombing inaccurate, Steep dive angle best, Scary, Sinking ships, Older pilots trained new pilots, No formal training, Strikes coordinated with L-5 aircraft, L-5s subject to ground fire, P-51 susceptibility to ground fire, Loss of coolant would down plane, Problem of overheating, Quick takeoffs required, Formations, Not on landing, Landing procedures

Tape 3, Side 1: Bowers, Fred (continued), Five fellow pilots killed in accidents, Landing, Running out of gas, Kirby killed in Nadzab, New Guinea, Scrambles -- 'hairy', Took off on any runaway, Japanese battleship inbound, False alarm, Missions could last 8-10 hours, 55 gallons of gas, 110 gallon wing tanks, Burned 50 gallons per hour, More efficient at high altitude, Mixture settings, Tailwinds, Typhoon hit Ie Shima, To Japan, Lost equipment and ships, Transferred to Osaka, Japan, after war, Itami Airfield, Housed in Mitsubishi factory dormitory, Had slept in tents in Ie Shima and Lingayen Gulf, Community showers, No flying, preparing to come home, Grounded for "combat fatigue", Pilots had to do aircraft maintenance, Maintenance personnel sent home, Impressions of Japan, Underground trains, People polite and gracious, G. I. made Japanese men defer to women, G. I.s wore pistols, No trouble, Drove truck picking up laborers, Servants to G. I.s, Friend that threatened houseboy, Returning home, "Hitchhiking" , Nagasaki-Ie Shima-Naha (Okinawa)-Clark Field, , Philippines-U.S., Arrived 12-24-45, Partying in Manila with West Pointer, Farming in West Texas, Married with child, Farmed only 2 years, To law school, University of Texas, Graduated, January, 1951, Passed bar, December, 1950, Qualifications, then and now, Law practice in Brownfield, Texas, March-August, 1951, No business, no money, Oil boom did not develop, Job in District Attorney's office, Lubbock, August, 1951, Divorced, 1962, from first wife, Second wife's son now practices with him, Assistant District Attorney, 1951 (again), Hired by Travis Shelton, D. A., Now closest friend, Similar ages, Distinguished lawyer award, 1998, from Lubbock Bar, Association, Decision made by peers, High honor, District Attorney's office, ca. 1951, Handled only criminal cases, Now separate 'Criminal D. A.', Numerous murder cases, More than DWIs, Shelton when County Attorney dealt with bootleggers, Crime rate similar today, Lubbock population growth, Why picked Lubbock, Actually 10th choice, Few jobs, 14 other applied for Assistant D. A. job, Shelton picked him because out-of-towner, Prosecuted many cases, especially murders, Interesting murder cases, Ralph White murdered by Ivory Gibson, Detective White surprised, Gibson in burglary, Gibson apprehended in 'Flats' (black area of town), Stand off situation, Whitaker case, Air Force cadet killed 18-year-old , girlfriend, 1951, Tried in Vernon, in one week, Found guilty and executed in 1 year, 2 months, Whitaker, after killing, stayed with her family, Flunked polygraph, Confessing, Wouldn't sign written confession

Tape 3, Side 2: Bowers, Fred (continued), Murder cases (continued), Whitaker case (continued), Speeded Whitaker to Lubbock, Recovering body, Garments, Helped dig, Blood still liquid, Bought rope to tie her up, Dispute of sex/pregnancy, Feared being kicked out of flight training, Rope proof of premeditation, 'Fruits of crime' allowed use of oral confession, Why he killed her, Pressured to marry, Fear of being kicked out of Air Force, His parents very wealthy, Dined next to him and Shelton at restaurant during trial, Numerous murders involving migrant Hispanic farm workers, Man killed wife in bus station, Executed, Man killed wife and daughter, Life sentence, Selective in seeking death penalty, Defending murder cases, Man killed 4, injured 1, and raped a woman, Man on jury Bower's friend, Got off with life sentence, Totally loyal to Bowers, Jury selection process, Strategic error by prosecutors, Assigned case by Judge Sterling Williams, Forced to take case, Reprimanded for getting defendant off with life sentence, Telling judge off, Details of murder, Angry at wife, Shooting wife's mother, Defense: found prosecutor in lies, Got light sentence, On first ballot, 4 jurors voted 'not guilty', Defendant was Adam Rios, Changes in legal practice, Solicitation and advertising, Degrading to lawyers, Distrust of big ads, Started in 1970s, Arizona Bar Association case, Supreme Court allowed it, Public's right to know of fees, Misrepresentation common in ads, Competent lawyers don't advertise, Too many lawyers, Texas Tech Law School, Over 600 in Lubbock, Best opportunities in established firms, Can't succeed alone anymore, Starting out: "tough", Helped his son get started, Good lawyer, Schooling, Regrets, Hard times, Carried by small grocery store until could pay them

Tape 4, Side 1: (August 5, 1998), Bowers, Forrest (continued), Bombing Japanese tanks, Pointing plane straight down, 500 pound bombs, Dangers, Low pull out, Ruining aircraft wings, 3rd time for that pilot, Strafing, Success of training questionable, Proximity to friendly troops, Care taken in bombing, Flight leader talked to ground controllers, Decorations: battle stars, Little serious Japanese opposition, Movie: "Saving Private Ryan", Realism, Losing 5 pilots in crashes, Marine pilots, Disappointed with lack of Japanese aircraft, Meeting John Glenn, Involvement in Democratic Party politics, George Mahon, 1st to represent 19th District, 1934, Had been D. A.before, Knew father (Bowers'), Father, election judge, Mahon paid him to hand out literature (Forrest Bowers), Good representative and man, Gathering at Reese Air Force Base, Drove him and Lyndon Johnson to meeting, Lyndon Johnson, powerful personality, Cramped in car, Lifelong Democrat, reasons for, Represent most of the people, Republicans, too much special interest, Father was a democrat, From East Texas, to West Texas, 1913, Effect of Franklin Roosevelt, United Southern conservatives with Northern liberals, Grandfather editorialized in Houston Chronicle, Discussion of pictures, papers, and letters in file, Houston Chronicle article (again), Written by John W. Lynch, Editorial (reading), George Mahon's greatest contribution, Chairman of Subcommittee of Appropriations, Funded Manhattan Project, Essential, Saved his life, Civil/military relations, World War II, Ft. Sumner, New Mexico, Took in military with open arms, Little entertainment, Aviators idolized, treated better, Infantry won the war, High casualties among flyers, Combat missions required to fly, Black pilots "Tuskeegee Airmen", Had good reputation, Feelings about segregation, Bunking with black officers on troop ship, Close friends, Impressive men, Economics determined by environment

Tape 4, Side 2: Bowers, Fred (continued), Martin L. King, Jr., Impressive speech maker, Motivated people, Philippines disaster area (again), Kids fighting for food scraps, Starvation, People very pro-American, Sought approval of soldiers, Japanese totally defeated, Bowed and scraped to Americans, General Douglas MacArthur, 'Benevolent dictator', Soldiers' disapproval, Fleeing Philippines, Based at Itami Air Base, Japan (again), Housed in dormitory for Mitsubishi factory (again), Description of Japan, Picturesque, Destruction, Bombing, Crews worried about bailing out over Japan, Thought certain death awaited, Changes in U. S. after World War II, Wartime prosperity, Changes in Lubbock, Effect of military bases on Lubbock, Reese, economically important, Need to diversify economy, Military preparedness, Sadaam Hussein threat, World policeman, Threat of China, Money given to pilots for escape if bailed out in China, Navigating in the Pacific, 1000 mile missions, Flight leaders, experienced, Ie Shima, Proximity to Japanese territory (again), Flew "Tail-End Charlie" a lot, "Buzzing" cars, animals, etc. in Ft. Sumner, Landing procedures, Peel off pattern, Loop landing, Teaching at SMU Law School, Working long hours to establish practice, Role models, George Mahon, George Dupree, usually against his firm in court, Most interesting case, Whitaker murder case (again), Summarization and importance of rope to conviction, Waggoner Carr, Speaker of house, 1952, Prosecuting bootleggers, Indictment of bootlegger, George Aaron, Tried with Travis Shelton, Suspended sentence lost, Role of Sheriff, Roy Hillim, After case, bootlegger wanted to sue his lawyer, Gun in court

Range Dates: 1909-1998

Bulk Dates: 1941-1950s

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