Former Senator Bernie Fowler, now of Prince Fredrick, attended basic training at the Great Lakes naval base and went on to basic engineering school. After that, he was shipped to Viejo, California where he came aboard the destroyer escort ship USS Engstrom DE-50. On this relatively small support ship, Fowler would spend his near two-year tour during the war.
The diesel-electric powered Engstrom traveled across the Pacific to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where the men geared up for what became, for Fowler, a run to numerous island bases in the Pacific Ocean, where some of the most horrific battles of the Pacific side of World War II were fought.
The primary operations aboard the Engstrom, and similar destroyer escorts, were to provide protective escorts for fleets near these islands. They also conducted anti-submarine warfare “sub chasing” and “picket runs” around island bases to look out for enemy submarines, ships or aircraft.