Veteran of the Day US Army Air Force Veteran William McGowan
Second Lieutenant William McGowan served in the United States Air Force during World War II. A native of Minnesota, McGowan worked as a journalist prior to his Air Force service. He was familiar with the business and the nature of reporting, as his father owned a newspaper, the Swift County Monitor News.
McGowan attended the University of Missouri School of Journalism and graduated in September 1942. His Air Force training began a few months later, in February 1943, and in December of the same year he received the rank of second lieutenant. His next stop was advanced fighter pilot training in Louisiana. While stationed in Louisiana, he married Suzanne Schaefer. With World War II underway, he was soon sent to England. As a member of the 391st Fighter Squadron, specifically the 366th Fighter Group, he was part of the Normandy invasion on D-Day, June 6, 1944. He was on his third mission the day his plane was shot down . He was 23 years old.
The United States searched the area extensively, first in 1947 and again in 2010. In 2018, McGowan was officially identified. After 78 years, he was finally laid to rest with full military honors at the Normandy American Cemetery in July 2022.
For years, McGowan was missing and his name is inscribed on the wall of the missing at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. There are approximately 1,600 men who participated in World War II who are still missing, but thanks to the great advances that have been made in the ability to identify the remains, we are now one less missing.
Since McGowan’s remains were found, a rosette has been placed next to his name on the Wall of the Missing. This symbolizes that he was buried on a grave and is no longer missing.
McGowan is the recipient of an Air Medal and a Purple Heart.
We honor his service.