Just outside Brownwood, Camp Bowie served as a training facility for over 60,000 World War II GIs who passed through its gates before they shipped overseas.
Less visible, more than 2700 German prisoners-of-war resided in an isolated section of the camp—most of them from Field Marshall Rommel’s Afrika Korps.
One former-POW Heinrich Krahforst, interviewed in Germany much later, remembered his Camp Bowie internment. He said, “I liked it in the United States so much that I tried to stay there, but they wouldn‘t let us. Many of my friends wanted to stay there, too.”
At war’s end, Camp Bowie was surplused and sold. Even so… 30 years later a colorful wartime relic continued to inhabit the camp, hidden behind a wall in the old enlisted men’s recreation hall.
As the long-empty rec building underwent renovation in 1976 to become the Brownwood Senior Citizens Center, wood slats were pried off a wall, and—to their surprise--construction workers spied painted images of soldiers and a tank. Before long, a mural—covering the entire wall—was revealed.
Community historians wanted to know more about the mural. They learned it had been created for an Army magazine competition… that the mural project was supposedly headed by Army Sargent Dick Hepburn, and it had won the $25 prize offered by the magazine.
All this information, however, was mostly rumor and hearsay.
After a year of constant research, the diligent historians finally received the proof they were seeking.
A letter arrived confirming that Dick Hepburn had indeed served at Camp Bowie… and backed-up the fact he had been assisted in painting the mural by German Afrika Korps POWs.
The letter was signed by Dick’s sister, movie-star Katherine Hepburn.