UPDATE: WWII Veteran Rowling Is Reds’ “Hometown Hero”
By Mike Perleberg
Bill Rowling was honored as the Cincinnati Bell Hometown Hero at Thursday’s Cincinnati Reds home game. Photo by P.G. Gentrup.
Update posted Friday, July 11 at 1:18 p.m.
Bill Rowling received a standing ovation at Great American Ball Park on Thursday.
He didn’t hit a home run or make a great catch in the Cincinnati Reds home game against the Chicago Cubs. The 90-year-old was recognized for his service to his country in World War II.
Rowling stood atop the home dugout as his story was told by the PA announcer and on the jumbotron. He was hailed as a World War II Veteran, Prisoner of War and Purple Heart Recipient.
He had his own cheering section as he was accompanied by PG and Paula Gentrup and their grandson, Grady Walter; son-in-law Tom “Stoney” Stonefield, Joe Alig and Ron and Connie Spurlock.
“Bill said it was a day he will never forget as he has been a Reds fan since he was a youngster,” Gentrup said. “Bill was telling the story about when he and his son-in-law, Stoney, drove to New York so they could attend the last game at Yankee Stadium on September 21, 2008 and how much he has enjoyed baseball for so many years. He faithfully listens to and watches the Reds.”
Rowling was nominated for the Hometown Hero feature by P.G. Gentrup and Ron Spurlock.
Original story posted Thursday, July 10 at 8:16 a.m.:
(Cincinnati, Oh.) – A local World War II veteran will be recognized before thousands of Reds fans at Great American Ball Park Thursday afternoon.
Rising Sun resident Bill Rowling has been selected as a “Cincinnati Bell Hometown Hero”. He’ll be introduced to fans and stand on top of the home dugout during the second inning of the day game against the Chicago Cubs.
Now 90, Rowling has been a lifelong Reds fan. However, his experience in the great war should make many a fan of him.
Ohio County Veteran Service Officer P.G. Gentrup said Rowling served in the 8th Army Air Force with the 388th Bombardment Group, stationed in England. He was a 20-year-old ball turret gunner on a B-17 called the Iza Angel.
On February 20, 1944, on the bomber’s 16th mission, they were shot down by German fighter planes. Two of Rowling’s fellow B-17 members were killed that day. He survived, but was soon captured and spent the next 17 months in a prisoner of war camp in Germany. He was finally liberated by General George S. Patton’s troops when the war ended in Europe on May 8, 1945.
After the war, Rowling went to work for General Electric, retiring from GE’s plant in Evendale, Ohio.
Gentrup said Rowling will be among four local veterans to serve as a wreath presenter at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery during a trip planned for September.
Gentrup himself will be recognized as a “Cincinnati Bell Hometown Hero” during the Reds home game on Tuesday, July 29.