Victoria_Cross_of_canada

THE

 

TO THE VICTORIA & GEORGE CROSS

COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE

victoria_cross george cross scan0004

b. 02/06/1884 Rye, New York. d. 22/05/1957 Brooklyn, New York.

 

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 20/01/1909 Coquimbo, Chile.

 

Gowan was born in Rye, New York, on June 2, 1884, and joined the Navy from that state in about 1907. By January 20, 1909, he was serving as a boatswain's mate on a ship in the 2nd Division of the United States Pacific Fleet. On that evening, while the division was anchored off Coquimbo, Chile, a fire broke out at a hotel in the city. Gowan was among a group of U.S. sailors, led by Captain Bradley A. Fiske, who went ashore and attempted to extinguish the blaze. The group was unable to save the hotel, but successfully kept the fire from spreading to nearby buildings. For their actions during the incident, Gowan and another man, Shipfitter First Class George Huber Wheeler, were awarded the Medal of Honor two months later, on March 19.

 

MOH CITATION:

 

For bravery and extraordinary heroism displayed by him during a conflagration in Coquimbo, Chile, 20 January 1909.

 

While serving on the USS New York (BB-34) in 1916, Gowan was promoted to chief boatswain's mate. He eventually reached the warrant officer rank of boatswain before retiring from the Navy in 1942, after 35 years of service.

 

As a civilian, Gowan worked for the Waterbury Rope Sales Corporation in Brooklyn. He died at work of a heart attack on May 22, 1957, at age 72. His body lay unclaimed for a week before his only remaining close relative, a sister named Ella Wickwire, could be located. In the meantime, the Navy made funeral arrangements for Gowan, who left behind no money for a burial.

 

BURIAL LOCATION: LONG ISLAND NATIONAL CEMETERY, EAST FARMINGDALE, NEW YORK.

Section DSS, Grave 7

William Henry Gowan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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gowan w h grave