Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bill Bowell, Legendary St. Paul Riverboat Captain, Dies At 90

A St. Paul legend, 90-year-old Capt. Bill Bowell, died this week. Bowell started the Padelford Packet Boat Company, a St. Paul-based river cruise business that carried thousands of people on trips up and down the Mississippi. Bowell was a St. Paul native and a World War II veteran. In a 2002 conversation with local news, Bowell recalled growing up in St. Paul with 11 siblings selling popcorn on Harriet Island. Bowell called it a special french-fried popcorn and remembered the sales pitch he used. "We had a phrase: 'Sharpens your teeth and combs your hair and makes you feel like a millionaire. Hey, hey, it's french-fried popcorn, only a nickel, half a dime, keeps you eating all the time.'" Bowell grew up during the Great Depression, and worked many jobs including shining shoes and selling good luck charms to help the family finances. Just before World War II broke out, Bowell, a teenager, said he joined the National Guard. "We joined the National Guard to get the shoes at that time. This is an honest to god's fact. You know, in our day getting a pair of shoes, that was something else," Bowell said. Bowell was a World War II paratrooper. He was among the first wave of Allied troops to land in France behind German lines on D-Day. "Two o'clock in the morning, and I got shot down. I was a radio operator in a demolition crew to blow up a bridge, and of course we went around the Cherbourg Peninsula over by Marseille.
Capt. William Bowell Sr., front, and his son William Bowell Jr.
"About 30 miles from the drop zone we got hit with 2,000 pounds of dynamite and TNT underneath the airplane, that's going to drop with us. And nothing blew up, but the plane was going down. "...I hit the ground, but the chute opened. I sprained an ankle which I'd never done before and as I'm laying on the ground I'd dropped my knife which I'd spent weeks sharpening, pulled it out of my boot and dropped it and I picked it up by the blade not thinking and I'm trying to cut myself out with the wrong end and I cut the devil out of my hand." Bowell also fought in the Battle of the Bulge and returned from World War II with medals and citation for his service including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Bowell, a Macalester College graduate, says his lifelong dream was to pilot a boat on the Mississippi River, which required getting a Coast Guard pilots license. He remembered taking the test for the license in Dubuque. "I go down there and there's this old guy by the name of Schmoker. And this is 1951. And I go into the office and he says, 'Well what side of the boat is port?' I said, 'Well it's the left side.' And he said, 'What's the other side?' I said, 'That's starboard and that's right.' He said, 'Son you just passed your license," Bowell remembered. "Of course, I've upgraded that license many times to higher tonnage, but when I tell that to the Coast Guard people, they'd like to croak."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Army Changes Enlistment Age

After months of great recruiting success, the Army has lowered the age limit for active duty and Reserve enlistment to age 34. Several months ago, the Army raised it's enlisted recruiting age to age 42 to help boost sagging recruiting numbers. However, with the now sagging economy, the Army has had no problem meeting their recruiting goals for the past several months, and therefore have reverted to the previous age limits. Under this policy, new recruits must be able to ship out to basic training before reaching the age of 35.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Military Operations To Take Back Hijacked Ship

Anti-Terrorist Special Forces have started a military operation to take control of the ship Arrilah 1 which was hijacked by pirates on Friday morning in the Arabian Sea, an official source from the Headquarters of the UAE Armed Forces, Wam said. An Abu Dhabi-owned ship has come under attack from pirates in the Arabian Sea while sailing from Australia to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, state news agency WAM said Saturday. The bulk carrier MV Arrilah-I, was attacked in the early hours of Friday, WAM said quoting a statement by the Abu Dhabi government-owned operator."We have been assured that all crew members are safe and in good health. Company management is monitoring the situation closely in coordination with relevant government authorities," it said, without specifying clearly that the vessel had been hijacked. The statement also did not specify where the ship was in the Arabian Sea when the attack happened. MV Arrilah-I is a "37,000 metric tonne deadweight, Handy Size Bulk Carrier", according to the statement. It is owned by Abu Dhabi National Tanker Company (ADNATCO) and National Gas Shipping Company (NGSCO) which are subsidiaries of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, and own and operate a fleet of carriers for transporting LNG, petroleum products and sulfur. They are also involved in the marine transportation of petroleum products, ship bunkering and the bulk transportation of sulphur.

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