When Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) learned of the approaching 95th birthday of Iwo Jima veteran Robert “Bob” Lowry, of Modesto, back in February, the Congressman felt a chord struck in his heart to recognize Lowry for his dedicated service to the United States Marines.
In recognition of Lowry’s service, Congressman Denham took to the House floor on Lowry’s birthday to share his biography and some highlights from his lifetime of service to members of Congress. Additionally, Congressman Denham’s veteran and military liaison, Mike Anderson, Sr., attended Lowry’s surprise 95th birthday party with more than 70 friends and family members, where Lowry was also presented with a Distinguished Service Award from the Modesto detachment of the Marine Corps League.
Being an Air Force Vet, Denham has made it a point to stand up for veterans while recognizing their years of service and dedication any opportunity that he can. As such, Denham requested Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki send Lowry a quick birthday note of thanks for his service. Lowry was delivered the handwritten note on his birthday when he also sat in front of a television with a red bow on top, watching a live broadcast of Denham make an official record of his achievements to the US House of Representatives.
“Bob has lived his life modestly and generously. He truly fits the description of one who ‘gives without remembering and receives without forgetting,’” said Denham. “His life has embodied the Marine Corps motto ‘Semper Fidelis’ – always faithful.”
During his surprise birthday party, members of the Marine Corps League Detachment presented the colors to Lowry while singing the United States Marine Corps Hymn. Anderson also presented Lowry with a copy of his biography which had been read by Denham into the Congressional record.
Lowry was born in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 25, 1919. After attending Manilus School, a military high school in upstate New York, he graduated at the top of his class and was named an ROTC honor graduate. Lowry also received a Commission to the United States Army, but was too young to accept at the time. He was then admitted to Princeton University where he wrote an award-winning thesis on “National Wartime Regulation of Railroads.” He graduated in 1942 with highest honors, Summa Cum Laude, as an ROTC Honor Graduate. These honors earned him a Commission in the United States Marine Corps as a Second Lieutenant. In July 1942, following Officer Candidate School at Quantico, he began artillery training.
In February of 1943, Lowry sailed out of San Diego Harbor with the 2nd Battalion, 12th Regiment of the Third Marine Division. He joined the fighting on the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific; first in the Guadalcanal, then the original invasions of Bougainville, Guam, and Iwo Jima.
On his way to the fighting in the Solomon Islands, while briefly in Auckland, New Zealand, Lowry met a Navy nurse ensign and later lieutenant commander named Mary Dudley. He would not see Mary again for 3 years when both returned stateside near the end of the war. Lowry was released from active duty in January of 1946 and retired from the Marines in 1959 with the rank of Major, before beginning a lifetime of specialty law practice, primarily in public utility and transportation.
In May of 1946, Mary and Bob Lowry were married. Mary always maintained that as lieutenant commander, she outranked him both in their military service and in their marriage. They have two children: Robert Dudley Lowry and Ann Lowry-Perez, as well as four grandchildren: Sam and Joe Lowry, and Michael and Lowry Champion. Mary passed away in April 2005, just two weeks before their 60th anniversary.
This past week, Congressman Denham joined Lowry and his children Ann and Bob at Lowry’s home in Modesto, presenting him with an official biography as included in the Congressional Record framed with the handwritten letter from VA Secretary Shinseki.
“Bob Lowry is a true American hero,” said Denham. “He deserves to be honored for his unwavering dedication and contributions to this nation.”