- "You don't scare me, communist piece of shit!"
- — Bowman's last words.
Chief Petty Officer Joseph Bowman was a SOG operative who appears in Call of Duty: Black Ops. He was Woods' right-hand man. He appears in almost every mission played by Mason up until Payback, in which he is killed by a Spetsnaz Operative. He is voiced by and likened to Ice Cube.
Not much is known about Bowman's early life, other than the fact that he was born on November 10, 1940, in Atlanta, Georgia. His father was a World War II veteran, as he was his influence for enlisting in the Navy at the young age of 17. Bowman also attended Underwater Demolition Team school as a part of his training.
- "Occupants leavin' their vehicles. Armed with shotguns!"
- — Bowman to Carlos, Mason, and Woods.
Bowman fought alongside Alex Mason and Frank Woods during "Operation 40". During the planning phase, he met up with Carlos in a bar before having to fight through a police raid. Later, he infiltrated the compound of Fidel Castro. He separated from Mason and Woods after the initial assault, rejoining them after Castro's double is killed. He escaped Cuba on a transport plane after Mason jumped off to destroy the vehicles blocking the runway, allowing the plane safe passage.
- "We've got a visual on Weaver. He's been takin' to the bunker south of the comms building."
- — Bowman to Woods.
Years later, Bowman again fought alongside Mason and Woods in Baikonur to sabotage the Russian Soyuz launch. He infiltrated the facility with Brooks and joined with the other operatives. Disguised as a Russian soldier, Bowman led a pair of guards away from the comm tower to dispatch them, allowing Woods and Mason to storm the tower. Bowman and Brooks proceeded to rescue Weaver, who had been captured by Kravchenko. The operatives moved to the Soyuz launch platform to destroy the rocket. During their escape, Bowman presumably assisted Mason in the attempted assassination of Dragovich, but they were unable to confirm the kill after destroying his limousine.
- "Mason! Grab that M202!"
- — Bowman yelling to Mason.
In 1968, Bowman was deployed to Vietnam as part of the Studies and Observations Group. He again met up with Woods and Mason after a battle at Khe Sanh and assisted Mason during the Tet Offensive at Hue City, establishing contact with a Russian defector and helping Mason out of trouble. Bowman took part in a clean-and-sweep operation to root out local Viet Cong. During the Laos incursion, Bowman rode shotgun on Mason's boat, using a Grim Reaper to destroy numerous enemy positions on the river. He located the wreck of a Russian cargo plane, but found nothing other than a map and a China Lake grenade launcher. He helped defend the plane when Russian Spetsnaz tried to recapture the site, and was captured and given to the Viet Cong.
Bowman was held captive for about a week. During this time, Mason relates that Bowman had "given up". Bowman was forced to play Russian roulette by the VC Bookie, but instead he angered the Russian interrogator, sparking him to beat him to death with a pipe. When Mason and Woods escaped, they avenged Bowman's death by killing the Russian while he was trying to flee. However, he was not officially known to have died until after Mason's capture at Rebirth Island.
- In the mission "Victor Charlie" when Woods and Mason meet up with Bowman for the first time in the level, the player can notice, upon closer inspection of Bowman, that despite he is dark skinned he has white hands.
- He is the announcer for the SOG in multiplayer.
- Bowman is multilingual. In Executive Order, he speaks to the Soviet soldiers in Russian to get them out the way of a door before killing them with Brooks. Bowman also seems to understand Vietnamese, because in The Defector, Woods asks Bowman what the NVA loudspeaker is saying and Bowman translated it into "Kill the civilians". The in-game intel notes that Bowman is also fluent in Spanish.
- Bowman's dead body can only be found in the PlayStation 3 and PC versions of the game.
- In the mission "Victor Charlie", the player could notice that on Bowman's uniform, the service branch is visibly noticeable, which says "US A", suggesting US Army, despite him being from the US Navy.
- He was born the same day as Weaver.