Robert Ludlow Fowler, III, born 19 April 1919 in New York City, enlisted in the Naval Reserve 2 July 1940. Commissioned 12 September 1941, he reported to Duncan (DD-485) before she was commissioned, and served in her in action in the South Pacific. Lieutenant (junior grade) Fowler was killed in the Battle of Cape Esperance on the night of 11-12 October 1942. With his ship under the heavy fire which sank her, he fired a torpedo thought to have scored the initial hit on Japanese cruiser Furutaka, sunk that night. Immediately after getting this first torpedo away, he was fatally wounded by a shell which burst close to his torpedo director. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.
(DE-222: dp. 1,400; 1. 306'; b. 36'10"; dr. 9'5"; s.
24 k.: cpl. 186; a 3 :1", ~ 21" tt., 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (hh.l,
2 dct.; cl. Buckley)
Fowler (DE-222) was launched 3 July 1943 by Philadelphia Navy Yard; sponsored by Mrs. Robert L. Fowler, III, widow of Lieutenant (junior grade) Fowler; and commissioned 15 March 1944, Lieutenant Commander G. S. Forde, USNR, in command.
Between 22 May 1944 and 15 May 1945, Fowler made six voyages to escort convoys from New York, Norfolk, and Boston to ports in northern Africa, guarding men and supplies destined for the operations in Italy and southern France. The fifth such voyage, between 1 February 1945 and 16 March, was marked by the presence of submarines both outward and homeward bound. On 17 February, west of Gibraltar, two of the merchantmen were torpedoed, but both were brought safely into Gibraltar, one after Fowler had stood by to screen while a tug came out to help. Two days out of Oran homeward bound 28 February, Fowler picked up a sound contact, and made an urgent attack which brought debris to the surface. A second attack, made in coordination with a French escort, sank U-869.
In June 1945, Fowler began serving as a target and escort to submarines training out of New London, then in September, arrived at Miami, Fla., to serve as schoolship for the Naval Training Center. Her final duty, in November, was as plane guard for Charger (CVE-30) in Chesapeake Bay. Fowler arrived at Green Cove Springs 10 January 1946, and there was decommissioned and placed in reserve 28 June 1946.
Fowler received one battle star for World War II service.