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CARBON-DALE Col. Glenn Joseph McGowan (U.S. Army Retired), 95, passed away peacefully on March 29, 2001, at his home in Fairbanks, Alaska, from a lengthy battle with a staph infection in his knee joint and "too many parachute jumps."
   He was born Feb. 12, 1909, in Carbondale, to Louis Michael and Mary Mae (Russell) McGowan with a birth weight of 13.5 pounds. His father worked 50 years for the Illinois Central Railroad.
   Glenn grew up in a world of oil lamps with horse and buggy transportation. His most memorable event of the 20th century was his waving an American flag on Armistice Day in 1918, which spooked a team of horses and caused a wagon loaded with milk cans to overturn. Their first automobile was a French chain-driven Metz. The electrification of Carbondale made kerosene lamps and the ice box a thing of the past.
   As a youth, Glenn was very athletic. From age 13, he attended Citizen Military Training Camp for five summers. He played on the Illinois Interscholastic All-State Football and Basketball teams in high school. In 1926, at a high school track meet, the "Red Head Flash" set the national record for the 50-yard dash in 5.5 seconds.
   Glenn attended college under football scholarships at the University of Illinois at Urbana and DePaw University in Chicago. He played football against former President Ronald Reagan, whom he described as being "long-legged and easy to block."
   He earned a bachelor's degree in business and administration and a master's degree in education from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
   Glenn's 30-year military career was colorful and exciting. In 1931, during the Great Depression, Glenn entered the military service in the Reserve Corps as a private and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. From 1933 to 1939, he was ordered to active duty as a company officer and company commander working for the Civilian Conservation Corps at Isle Royal, Mich., Skokie Valley Lagoons in Chicago and Klamath Falls, Ore. During this time he was promoted to first lieutenant.
   In 1940 he served in the Second Armored Division as a company commander under Col. George S. Patton and was promoted to captain. He then served under Maj. William M. Miley as a member of the original 501st Army Parachute Battalion (currently deployed to Afghanistan from Fort Richardson, Alaska) to become company commander of the 502nd Parachute Battalion.
   In 1942 Glenn was promoted to major and assigned to the Airborne Command at Fort Bragg, He escorted British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill during an airborne phase of a military demonstration and review.
   Glenn served as the battalion commander and regimental executive officer with the 511th "Hard Rock" Airborne Infantry Regiment at Camp Toccoa, Ga.
   In 1943 Glenn was promoted to lieutenant colonel and was transferred to the 11th Airborne Division. In 1944 he became Assistant Chief of Staff (G-1) in the 11th Airborne serving at Camp Mackall, N.C, and Fort Polk, La., and in the South Pacific serving with Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Australia, New Guinea, Leyte and Luzon in the Philippine Islands.
   Glenn's proudest military accomplishment was his part in planning the 11th Airborne rescue of over 2,100 men, women and children from scheduled execution at the Japanese Los Banos Prison Camp south of Manila. Secretary of State Colin Powell told West Point graduates, "I doubt that any airborne unit in the world will ever be able to rival the Los Banos prison raid. It is a textbook airborne operation for all ages and all armies." That historic event was overshadowed by the press coverage of the U.S. Marines raising the American flag over Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945.
   In 1945, Glenn went on to serve as the commanding officer of special troops at the parachute school at Fort Benning, Ga. In 1947, he attended the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Glenn served as battalion commander of the 187th Parachute Infantry Regiment during the allied occupation of Japan and at Fort Campbell, Ky., where he was promoted to colonel.
   Other military assignments included airborne advisor to commander-in-chief of the Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, Va.; military attaché at the American Embassy in Rangoon, Burma; MAAG Observer in Vietnam; Commander of the 508th Regimental Combat Team at Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Campbell, Ky.; commander of the 188th Parachute Infantry Regiment; commander of Operation Good-Will in Panama; and chief of support plans Branch at the headquarters of the U.S. European Command in Paris.
   During his overseas military assignments, Glenn enjoyed golfing partnerships with General Ne Win, who became the president of Burma and the Duke of Windsor in Paris. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1961 as the commanding officer of Fort McNair in Washington, D.C.
   Glenn was awarded numerous military decorations, including the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal, Army Commendation Ribbon, War Department Unit Citation, Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four campaign stars and one bronze arrowhead, American Defense Medal, American Campaign Medal, Philippines Liberation Ribbon with one
In 1948, Glenn met Capt. Rose Leona (Benjamin) Wagner serving as Military Secretary to Lt. Gen. Robert Eichelberger and Lt. Gen. Walton Walker in Yokohama, Japan, where they began a marriage that lasted 48 years. 
   In 1961, Glenn moved his family to Riverside, Calif., where he was able to achieve an earlier dream of becoming a school teacher. He taught American government and coached the golf team at Riverside Polytechnic high school for 10 years. He was an active member of the Victoria Club.
   In 1971, Glenn and Rose moved to Mission Bay in San Diego. They enjoyed many active years together at their home on Crown Point Drive until Rose passed away in 1996. In 1997, Glenn moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, to live with his son and family until his death.
   Glenn is survived by his two daughters, Patricia Marie Meadors of Jacksonville, Ala., and Glenda Jean Wheeler of San Diego, Calif.; one son and daughter-in-law, Michael Glenn and Kathy McGowan of Fairbanks, Alaska; eight grandchildren and two grandchildren-in-law, Dianna Lynn and Brian Major of Gulf Shores, Ala., Paula Louise Meadors of Jacksonville, Ala., Melissa McGowan and Robert Hostetler, Amy Elizabeth Jones, Sarah Marie Wheeler and Brian Clifford Wheeler, all of San Diego, Calif, Erin Rose McGowan and Kevin Michael McGowan, both of Fairbanks, Alaska; five great-grandchildren, Zachary Scott and Corey Lee Caldwell, both of Gulf Shores, Ala., and George Robert, Jonathan James and Joshua Glenn Hostetler, all of San Diego, Calif; four cousins and three cousins-in-law, Robert Franklin and Pat Russell of Redding, Calif., Joann and Ray Charles of Carbondale, Sidney Warren McGowan of Carbondale, and Paul Patrick and Katie McGowan of Bartlett; one niece and nephew-in-law, Elizabeth McGowan and Fabrizio Devetak of Wheaton; and one sister-in-law, Crissie Ethel McGowan of Carbondale.
   Glenn was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Louis Russell McGowan.
   Glenn has been cremated and his ashes will be buried with military honors at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 14, 2004, next to his parents and brother in Oakland Cemetery in Carbondale. Funeral arrangements will be made by the Huffman-Harker Funeral Home in Carbondale.
   In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the charity of your choice.
   As his old comrade-in=arms Gen. Douglas MacArthur once said, "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away." Let us never forget the unquestioned sacrifices these dedicated Americans made to ensure that we are able to enjoy the freedoms we have today. Glenn was truly a member of America's greatest generation.

[Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale, IL, 08 Aug 2004, Sun, Page 11]

[courtesy of "Maree"]

Grave marker for Glenn j. McGowan in Oakland Cemetery, Carbondale (Jackson county), Illinois.


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