Second Lieutenant Owen Owen Jr.
F-Company, 502 PIR
101st Airborne Division
Owen Jr. while serving as a Staff Sergeant with the 84th Infantry Division ("Rail Splitters"),
before joining the 101st Airborne Division.
Shortly after D-Day, Owen received a battlefield commission and was promoted 2nd Lieutenant. After fierce fighting, the 101st Airborne Division was sent back to England to re-group. As a replacement platoon commander of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion, F-Company, Owen parachuted into Holland on September 17, 1944.
Leaving England from RAF Greenham Common, the second Battalion landed on drop zone "B" near Son at 13:22hrs, After assembling, the 2nd and 3rd Battalion 502 went into bivouac, East of the dropzone as Division reserve and to guard the entire Landingzone. Only H-Company of the 3rd Battalion was sent to capture a secondary objective; the bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal, South of Best.
After the primary objective, the bridge at Son, was destroyed by the Germans, the bridge at Best became a priority. H-Company however had run into fierce resistance from the Germans at the bridge. The commanding officer of the 502nd PIR, Colonel John H. Michaelis, ordered the other two Companies (G and I) of 3rd Battalion, (under command of Lt. Colonel Robert G. Cole), to move from their bivouac area, to assist H-Company in the capture of the bridge.
The next morning, September 18, 1944 at 06:00 hrs, the 2nd Battalion (D, E and F Company) under command of Lt. Col. Steve A. Chappuis, was also ordered to move to the assistance of Cole's 3rd. Battalion near Best where they closed in on the 3rd Battalion's right flank. While 2nd Battalion was trying to get into position in line down the main road toward the bridge, German reinforcements from the 719th Division shelled the 2nd and 3rd Battalion of the 502 PIR with heavy artillery and mortar fire. It is highly probable that at this time, while leading his men to their fighting positions, 2nd Lieutenant Owen jr. was hit by shrapnel and died a few moments later, alongside many fellow paratroopers.
Due to the constant German pressure on 3rd Battalion, Cole called in for air support from P-47 fighters. While observing the air attack, Lt. Col. Robert G Cole (recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Normandy) was killed by a sniper.
During the same battle, the severely injured PVT Joe E. Mann sacrificed his life for his comrades by throwing himself on top of a German hand grenade. He also was posthumously awarded with the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award the Nation could bestow upon him.
"LEST WE FORGET"
Owen jr.'s grave at US Military Cemetery Margraten (NL)
Plot A, Row 4, Grave 11
From left to right: Owen jr. with his brother Charles and sister Jean