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Gen Ross Erastus Rowell
Birth: Sep. 20, 1884
Death: Sep. 6, 1947

US Marine Corps Lieutenant General. His military career spanned World Wars I and II, and he rose in rank to become the Director of Marine Corps Aviation and Commanding General of Marine Aircraft Wings, Pacific (MAWP). He was one of the three senior officers of US Marine Corps aviation during World War II. Nicknamed "Rusty," he was born in Ruthven, Iowa and received his primary and high school education there. He attended and graduated from Iowa State College (now Iowa State University) at Ames, Iowa, followed by two years of studying electrical engineering at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. He then worked for two years as topographer and draftsman for the US Geological Survey at Sanke River Valley, Idaho. In August 1906 he joined the US Marine Corps and was appointed as a 2nd lieutenant, serving in Cuba until 1909. When the US entered World War I, he served duty in the West Indies. Following World War I, he was designated a Student Naval Aviator in 1923, taking his fight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida and at Kelly Field (now Kelly Air Reserve Base, a part of Joint Base San Antonio), Texas. He was commended by the Secretary of the Navy for making the highest bombing score during the gunnery year 1924 to 1925, and in 1926 he was praised by the Commandant of the Marine Corps for the high state of efficiency prevailing at Naval Air Station San Diego, California, where he had become a group commander. In early 1927, as commander of the squadron VO-1M, he deployed to Nicaragua as part of the US occupation during this time referred to as the Banana Wars. In July of that year he led a 5-plane detachment of Airco DH.4 aircraft in defense of the Marine garrison at Ocotal that was surrounded by several hundred sandinistas led by Augusto César Sandino and his successful dive-bombing runs from low altitude marked one of the first coordinated dive-bombing attacks in aviation history. In May 1932 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and became commander of the East Coast Expeditionary Force at Marine Corps Air Station Quantico, Virginia and his air command won the Schiff Trophy in 1932, and again in 1933. In September 1933 he led the Marine Air Detachment at the International Air Races at Chicago, Illinois, and in the All-American Air Races at Miami, Florida in January 1935, achieving commendable performances on both occasions. In May 1935 he was promoted to the rank of colonel served as Director of Marine Corps Aviation until March 1939. In this role he was the senior advisor to the US Marine Corps Commandant on all aviation matters and the Marine Corps' liaison with the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics. In December 1939 he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general and in the early stages of World War II, he was sent to London, England as an Air Attaché for duty in Cairo, Egypt. It was in the desert and in the skies over Great Britain that he saw the advent of fighter aircraft equipped to operate at night, and upon his return to the US in November 1941, he recommended the US Marine Corps acquire a medium sized, long range, high-speed bomber to be used for night harassing missions that ultimately led to the establishment of the Marine PBJ-1 (the naval version of the medium bomber B-25 Mitchell aircraft) bomber program. After the US entered World War II, he was promoted to the rank of major general and he served as Commanding General, MAWP, at Marine Corps Air Station Ewa, Hawaii, from the opening of the Guadalcanal Campaign in August 1942 until Japanese air power was driven from the Bismarck-Solomon Islands in 1944. In August of that year, following a bitter dispute with Admiral Chester W. Nimitz over the new role of US Marine aviators and the renaming of his command, he was quickly relieved and in October 1944 he became the Chief of the Naval Aviation Mission to Peru. He retired in this position in November 1946 with 40 years of continuous military service. His military and foreign awards and decorations include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal with 2 service stars, the Cuban Pacification Medal, the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal with 2 bronze stars, the World War I Victory Medal with West Indies clasp, the Nicaraguan Campaign Medal (1933), the American Defense Service Medal with 1 service star, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 3 service stars, the World War II Victory Medal, the Nicaraguan Medal of Merit, and the Nicaraguan Medal of Distinction with diploma. He was then promoted to the rank of lieutenant general on the retired list for having been especially commended in combat in accordance with an Act of Congress passed on March 4, 1925 and February 23, 1942 (colloquially known as a "tombstone promotion"). He died at the US Naval Hospital in San Diego, California at the age of 62. (bio by: William Bjornstad) 
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington County
Virginia, USA
Plot: Section 8 Lot 5190-2-A
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Russ Jacobs
Record added: May 09, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 10933258
Gen Ross Erastus Rowell
Added by: William Bjornstad
Gen Ross Erastus Rowell
Added by: Paul Hays
Gen Ross Erastus Rowell
Added by: Paul Hays
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