Rear Admiral McDowell was born in Evansville, Indiana on 21 November 1930. After graduation from Indian University in 1953, where he received his AB degree, he entered the Naval Officer Candidate Program at Newport, Rhode Island and was commissioned Ensign in June 1954.
After commissioning and attending the Fleet Communications School at Newport, Rhode Island, he reported for duty to Staff, Commander Seventh Fleet. During this tour he served in various communications billets while the staff was embarked on heavy cruisers ST. PAUL (CA 73) ROCHESTER (CA 124) and HELENA (CA 75). His next duty was the USS WASP (CVA 18/CVS 18) where he had a variety of communications assignments. Following a Western Pacific deployment and later a change of homeport from San Diego to Quonset Point, Rhode Island, his next duty was to Staff Commander Amphibious Squadron Seven as Squadron Communications Officer and subsequently as Assistant Operation Officer. Following Western Pacific deployments with Amphibious Squadron Seven on USS CAVALIER (APA 33), Rear Admiral McDowell reported to Naval Security Group Headquarters where his duties were in communications security and special communications. Hs next assignment was in Hawaii with Naval Security Group Detachment, Staff, Commander-in-Chief U.S. Pacific Fleet.
In November 1965, he was assigned as Officer-in-Charge, Naval Security Group Detachment, Hakata, Japan. In 1967, he became the first Commanding Officer of Naval Security Group Activity, Hakata, Japan.
Rear Admiral McDowell was subsequently assigned to the National Security Agency, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland where he was on the Resource Management Staff, Production Organization. In 1970, he reported to Staff, Commander-in-Chief U.S. Naval Forces Europe as Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Cryptology. His next assignment was to Naval Security Group Headquarters where he was the Assistant for Plans, Programs, Budget, and Resources Management/Comptroller.
In May 1978, he was assigned as Assistant Chief of Staff for Cryptology, Staff, Commander-in-Chief U.S. Pacific Fleet. He was selected for flag rank in February 1981. He reported to the National Security Agency in July 1981 as Chief Support to Military Operations.
He was assigned as Commander, Naval Security Group in June 1983 with Headquarters at the Naval Security Station, Washington, D.C. Relived in August 1986, he retired from active duty in December 1986.
Rear Admiral McDowell is married to the former Helen O’Neal of Oakland California and they reside in Chevy Chase, Maryland. They have on daughter, Sarah Elizabeth.
Source: NCVA Echoes of our Past