Born in Bauxite, Arkansas on 13 January, 1943, Colonel Dowden was a Distinguished Military Graduate from Arkansas State in 1962 with a BS in Accounting and a commission in the Field Artillery. He has served in positions of command and staff throughout the Army and around the world, to include small unit command in the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam, command of the 7th Finance Group in Saudi Arabia during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and Commandant of the U.S. Army Finance School. His awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, the Purple Heart, and our nation's third highest award for valor in combat: the Silver Star.
On 14 February 1966 Second Lieutenant Dowden was serving as leader of a forward observer party when his company received intense hostile fire from a well-fortified Viet Cong force. Dauntlessly, Lieutenant Dowden exposed himself to the intense hostile fire to effectively direct the return fire of his men and counterattack the insurgents. During the course of the mission a claymore mine was detonated which severely wounded his company commander. Although painfully wounded himself, Lieutenant Dowden went to the aid of his commander, and attempted to shield him from intense sniper fire. While rendering first aid, a second claymore mine was detonated, severely injuring Lieutenant Dowden.