Military Monday – Sonny Cowan

My dad Robert Allen Cowan, Sr. or “Sonny” as he was called, joined the Army on December 8, 1941 right after Pearl Harbor…..was sent to Fort Polk, Louisiana for basic training….then was selected for Officers Candidate School (OCS) and I am not sure where that was, possibly Waco.

He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1942.

He was shipped to the Pacific late in 1942 or early 1943 and did ‘island hopping’ following Marines who went in and secured islands and then the Army would come in and ‘mop up’ according to him. He was wounded in late 1943 and was finally sent ‘stateside’ to a VA hospital. I believe it was in San Francisco.

My mom took a train to visit him and in March/April of 1944 became pregnant with me. My dad was released from the hospital and was shipped to the “European Theater” and was part of the 36th Division.  Audie Murphy, WWII’s most decorated soldier and Congressional Medal of Honor winner and later movie star, was my dad’s friend, which plays a major role later in his life.

My dad was now a Captain and was with the 36th Division, I believe 142nd Infantry, but, I am not exact on that….I am fairly sure he was in General Butler’s division and was in Italy,
and France.

He received the bronze star, the Croix de Guerre and French Legion of Merit, the Purple Heart, participation ribbon’s for the Pacific and European theaters of war, the fleurs de guerre and was discharged in late 1945 as a Major.

He came back to Texarkana and could not find work. A call to Audie Murphy in Los Angeles prompted him and my mom to move and I was one year old.

We moved to Venice, California and Audie got my dad a job as a stuntman for Culver City Studios, where he did work on a few Clark Gable films (most notable was “Band of
Angels”) and he doubled for Gene Autry in at least 5 films.

My mom left him when I was 3 and we moved back to Texarkana, where they
subsequently divorced.

My dad stayed in the Army Reserve, was an instructor in 3rd Army at Fort Hood, Texas,  Fort Benning, Georgia, and Fort Eustis, Virginia.

He retained his Captaincy and died at the age of 48 from alcoholism and was buried with full military honors in Rose Hill Cemetery in Texarkana, Texas with the rank of Captain.

His Military Page on can be viewed here.

Robert Allen Cowan, Jr.

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