CRANSTON, RI – With a salute to the Greatest Generation, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today held a special ceremony at the Cranston Public Library for 91-year-old Coventry resident and World War II veteran James Dowling. Before family, friends, and library patrons, Senator Reed presented Mr. Dowling with medals he earned but never received for his service in World War II, including the Good Conduct Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the Navy Discharge Button, and the Honorable Service Lapel Pin.

A Cranston native, Mr. Dowling enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17, and after boot camp was sent to gunnery school in Florida. In 1943, he was stationed in Hawaii on board the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid.


Mr. Dowling soon became a member of a six-man crew on a Navy patrol bombing squadron known as the “Blue Raiders,” (Squadron VPB-117) which earned a distinguished record in the Pacific Theatre of World War II. The squadron compiled the best composite combat record of all U.S. Navy squadrons in World War II, receiving a Presidential Unit Citation for its heroic service.

“I’m honored to present Mr. Dowling with these medals for his service and tremendous bravery,” said Senator Jack Reed, a former Army Ranger and the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “He served his country valiantly in World War II, and just as importantly, he came back after the war to Rhode Island, where he raised a great family, helped us build a great country, and inspired others to serve their country in many different ways. His service is emblematic of our World War II veterans and it is important that we continue to recognize, honor, and celebrate their great contributions and achievements.”

After completing his Navy service in 1947, James Dowling returned to Providence, where he married Dorothy Sanzi. In May, James and Dorothy will celebrate their seventieth wedding anniversary. Mr. Dowling is retired from his career with the U.S. Postal Service and currently resides in Coventry.

According to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, only 620,000 were alive in 2016, including 2,625 Rhode Islanders.