Jimersontown resident and Seneca Nation member Ralph Elliot Bowen, a sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, was inducted into the New York State Senate’s Veterans’ Hall of Fame by Senator George M. Borrello Friday during a ceremony at the Seneca-Allegany Event Center on the Seneca Nation’s Allegany Territory.
Mr. Bowen, who turned 98 on August 8, is the last surviving World War II veteran from the Seneca Nation’s Allegany Territory. Mr. Bowen’s family and friends attended the ceremony Friday as did dignitaries including Seneca Nation President Rickey L. Armstrong, Sr.
Mr. Bowen fought in the European Campaign as an aerial gunner aboard a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber, serving from 1941 through 1945 to liberate France and Europe from Nazi occupation. He was a member of the 15th Air Force’s 450th Bombardment Group, 723rd Bombardment Squadron. The unit flew missions over France, Austria, Germany, the Balkans and Greece.
“We need to remember that freedom is never free. Preserving it takes courageous people like Ralph Bowen who are willing to risk their own lives for this nation and the ideals of liberty and opportunity on which it was founded,” Senator Borrello said. “Mr. Bowen’s life has been one of service, beginning with the combat missions he flew during World War II and continuing with his decades of dedication to the Seneca Nation. Recognizing his bravery and valor in the ‘Veterans Hall of Fame’ will ensure his achievements and example endure to inspire others.”