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Iowa veteran awarded the Order of the Gray Dragon for service



Williamsburg, Iowa – An Iowan man’s efforts in a Navy Nuclear Weapons Program was recognized on Saturday with the Order of the Gray Dragon.

The Navy Nuclear Weapons Association presented Robert Mowry, a veteran of the Navy, with the honor during a ceremony on Saturday in Williamsburg.

The member of the Nuclear Weapons Program with the earliest admission date is the one who receives recognition at a time. After the last Dragon passed away, Mowry now holds that distinction.

“I went into Special Weapons Unit 1233 in January 1953 from boot camp. Had no idea what a special weapons was. Gun that shoots around the corner? What? Had no idea—I had no idea it meant atomic weapons,” said Mowry.

Mowry was responsible for examining the atomic weapons.

“I did this five days a week for two-and-a-half years,” he said.

It wasn’t until 1996 that the Nuclear Radiation and Secrecy Agreements Act was repealed that he was permitted to disclose his service to others.

“All he said was, ‘I served in the Navy,’” said Mowry’s daughter Angie Daugherty. “It was a big deal to him to be able to finally talk about what he did.”

Nuclear weapons workers are a disappearing breed, according to Kris Hobbs, president of the Navy Nuclear Weapons Association.

“There’s a lot of stuff that’s going on here that they’ve received… radiation exposure and so forth—that the VA is not recognizing it a lot. So it’s good for us to recognize the oldest one here,” said Hobbs.

Watching 17 atomic bombs detonate in the Marshall Islands was Mowry.

“You heard the sound wave come across….watch the mushroom cloud rise and disperse and see if it was going to flow over you or not,” said Mowry.

“Back in the day, they didn’t know anything about radiation,” said Daugherty. “It’s amazing that he’s even still here.”

Mowry is still alive and is appreciative that so many of his loved ones attended the celebration of his service.

“What I did was very unusual. There aren’t many people that did what I did…I’m very proud, very proud of my service,” said Mowry.