Al Fowler and his sweetheart, Katie Shadle, graduated from high school together. As a private during 1945, Al served at various Army Air Corps bases while awaiting flight training. After the Japanese surrender ended World War II, Katie and Al were married. In November he was discharged and began college with the help of the GI Bill, like the other members of the Greatest Generation. They were rich in love, and their hopes and dreams were alive more than ever when Al became commissioned as a U.S. Navy ensign. With Katie’s support, his successful career as a naval aviator evolved for the next twenty-six years. Their story is of the nomadic, wonderful yet challenging life of a military family. Their journey describes how a direct procurement ensign was successful in competing with Naval Academy and NROTC graduates to become a captain.
As told in Hurricanes to Antarctica, Al Fowler became an expert in the why and how of the infamous low-level penetration of hurricanes during the 1950s. Hurricane Hazel in 1954, for example, had been flown in and through for ten days by the planes of Al’s squadron. The track of the storm as it turned north toward the Carolina Coast was being reported around the clock.