Justin Byron Gowen son of John Brackett Gowen
Justin Byron Gowen, son of John Brackett Gowen and Maria Louise Taylor Gowen, was born August 6, 1866 in Richmond, Minnesota. He was married January 8, 1891 to Antoinette Marie Wasmer in Grand Island, Nebraska. She was born July 16, 1866 at Ft. McPherson, Nebraska to William and Maria Wasmer.
In 1896 Justin Byron Gowen left his family in Grand Island and came to Caldwell, Idaho where he established a business. Five years later he brought his family in Idaho. In 1914, he was appointed as State Game Warden for the state of Idaho. He was named postmaster of Caldwell in 1922 and continued in that capacity until 1934. During the tenure he was elected mayor of Caldwell.
Lt. Col. Gowen served in the Idaho National Guard from 1927 to 1934. During that period he served as the Republican County Chairman and was elected to the State Legislature. He also served as Kiwanis governor of the Idaho-Utah District.
Lt. Col. Gowen was the father of 1st Lt. Paul R. Gowen. U. S. Army Air Corps who was killed in a plane crash in Panama July 11, 1938 [Newsletter, February 1990]. Gowen Field at Boise, Idaho was named in honor of Lt. Paul R. Gowen.
Justin Byron Gowen was an amateur horticulturist and developed the Caldwell Rose Garden. He was superintendent of the Canyon County Fair and was the judge of the rose competition. Due to his influence Caldwell became known as the “City of Roses.”
He died at his home of a heart attack July 3, 1939 and was buried in Canyon Hill Cemetery. Antoinette Marie Wasmer Gowen died three years later April 3, 1942 and was buried beside her husband.
Children born to Justin Byron Gowen and Antoinette Marie Wasmer Gowen include:
William Wasmer Gowen born October 17, 1891
Lloyd Byron Gowen born June 26, 1894
Daphne Eileen Gowen born July 21, 1896
Justin Byron Gowen, Jr. born September 11, 1898
Octavia Louise Marie Gowen born October 2, 1900
Ralph Bonner Gowen born April 7, 1902
Paul R. Gowen born February 1, 1909
William Wasmer Gowen, son of Justin Byron Gowen and Antoinette Marie Wasmer Gowen, was born October 17, 1891 at Ogden, Utah. He was married about 1914 to Agnes Bicknell. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, Aviation Branch in World War I. After the war, he was known as a barnstorming pilot who did acrobatics.
“William B. Gowen” was mentioned in “Wings over Idaho–An Aviation History” written by Dr. Arthur Hart.” He was identified as a “well known local pilot who had flown the Idaho back country since 1931.” Once William B. Gowen drew special praise for “flying at night with fireworks decorating his plane.”
Dr. Hart wrote, “In March 1931, William B. Gowen flew his Haddock Travelair to an improvised landing area in a small pasture at the old Coswell ranch near Big Creek to pick up Noel Routson, a young forest service employee who had been struck by an avalanche of snow and rocks while working on a forest trail. Gowen landed on the postage stamp field, loaded his passenger into the flying ambulance, and after a brief stop at Cascade, carried him on to Boise where he was taken to the hospital.”
In his later years William Wasmer Gowen was an accountant. He died November 14, 1955 at Boise and was buried in Canyon Hill, Cemetery. Children born to William Wasmer Gowen and Agnes Bicknell Gowen are unknown.
Lloyd Byron Gowen, of Justin Byron Gowen and Antoinette Marie Wasmer Gowen, was born June 26, 1894 in Grand Island, Nebraska. He died there December 13, 1896.
Daphne Eileen Gowen, daughter of Justin Byron Gowen and Antoinette Marie Wasmer Gowen, was born in Grand Island July 21, 1896. In 1938 she was secretary to the president of Lewiston Normal School, Lewiston, Idaho. She was married in 1972 to Earl Stellmon. In 1977 they lived in Clarkston, Washington. She died January 19, 1985 at Caldwell and was buried in Canyon Hill Cemetery.
Justin Byron Gowen, Jr, son of Justin Byron Gowen and Antoinette Marie Wasmer Gowen, was born September 11, 1898 in Grand Island. He was married June 2, 1935 to Mary Czach at Swilcza, Rzeszow, Poland where he was a mining engineer. In 1938 Justin Byron Gowen, Jr. was a geologist for Anaconda Cooper Company just before Germany invaded Poland. While most Americans were having great difficulty leaving Poland in opposite directions, he passed through Germany unchallenged and into freedom in Holland. In 1939 he was a resident of Butte, Montana. In 1955 he was a resident of Falls Church, Virginia. Children born to Justin Byron Gowen, Jr. and Mary Czach Gowen are unknown.
Octavia Louise Marie Gowen, daughter of Justin Byron Gowen and Antoinette Marie Wasmer Gowen, was born October 2, 1900 at Grand Island. She was married June 9, 1928 to Robert Walker at Caldwell.
Ralph Bonner Gowen, son of Justin Byron Gowen and Antoinette Marie Wasmer Gowen, was born April 2, 1902 at Caldwell. He attended the University of Idaho. He was married about 1925 to Doris Hiler. Following a divorce, he was remarried November 26, 1936 to Mrs. Norine Dolton Webber at Twin Falls, Idaho. In 1958 he was the owner of Red Barn Market in Mountain Home. He was a lieutenant in the Idaho National Guard. He died November 5, 1977 at Caldwell and was buried in Canyon Hill Cemetery.
Children born to Ralph Bonner Gowen, Doris Hiler Gowen and Norine Dolton Webber Gowen include William Gowen, born about 1938. In 1977, he lived in Eugene, Oregon.
Paul R. Gowen, son of Justin Byron Gowen and Antoinette Marie Wasmer Gowen, was born February 1, 1909 at Caldwell. Paul R. Gowen was a graduate of Caldwell High School and the University of Idaho at Moscow where he was graduated with honors. Following college, he was appointed to the U. S. Military Academy at West Point where he was also an honor graduate. He requested the Air Corps and, after flight training, was stationed in Louisiana, Oklahoma and the Canal Zone. He was married June 28, 1933 to Betty Wilson in San Antonio, Texas where he was stationed in the U. S. Army Air Corps.
Gowen Field of Boise was named July 23, 1941 in honor of 1st Lt. Paul R. Gowen of Caldwell, Idaho who was killed July 11, 1938 in Panama in the crash of his twin-engine Army Air Corps bomber, according to the July 23, 1941 edition of “Idaho Daily Statesman.”
“The War Department announced its decision to honor Lt. Gowen, chosen from names of three Idaho Army pilots who had met death in the line of duty, after several weeks of consideration.
His plane crashed in flames on the Paitilla Point military reservation shortly after taking off from Albrook Field near Panama City. His navigator and radioman crawled from the wreckage severely burned. They reported that smoke began pouring out of right engine shortly before it went dead. Lt. Gowen was unable to gain altitude with only one engine and attempted to glide to the ocean less than two miles away. A few hundred yards from the water the plane was impacted by tree tops and plunged into the jungle. He was killed instantly. He was 29. The accident was witnessed by a group of coast artillery soldiers working in the vicinity. They sent a rescue party and brought the survivors to a hospital.
Lt. Gowen was survived by his wife, the former Betty Wilson of Twin Falls, Idaho and a small daughter, Stephanie who had lived with him in the Canal Zone for the previous year.
Other survivors include his parents of Caldwell; two sisters, Mrs. Robert Walker of Caldwell and Miss Daphne Gowen of Lewiston and three brothers, William B. Gowen of Boise, Ralph B. Gowen of Twin Falls and Justin B. Gowen “who is on a leave of absence from Katowice, Poland where he is employed by Anaconda Mining Co.”
In a ceremony held April 9, 1942, the name of Gowen Field was formally adopted by the U. S. Army. Col. Charles B. Oldfield, commanding officer invited members of Lt. Gowen’s family as guests of honor for the dedication. Representing the family were Miss Daphne Gowen, sister, Lewiston; Mrs. William B. Gowen, sister-in-law, Boise and Justin B. Gowen, brother, Butte, Montana, according to the “Idaho Daily Statesman:”
Michael Monroe Gollahar wrote April 9, 1998:
“Lt. Gowen was a handsome, dashing fellow. I will forward your Foundation article on him to the public affairs officer at Gowen Field who may want to use it in a future edition of the Guard’s newspaper or base guide.
I was the Army National Guard public affairs officer at Gowen Field for several years. The base is now the home of the Army and Air Force National Guard of Idaho, as well as the Army Reserves. It became a major National Guard Training Center for Armor, and the associated Orchard Training Range in the high desert area south of Gowen Field is arguably the most technologically advanced and difficult multi-purpose armor training range in the entire U.S. Army. There are currently over 1,200 full-time employees working at Gowen Field which shares runways with the Boise Airport which is just outside of Boise.
Gowen Field was a major Army Air Corps Bomber Training Base during World War II and housed the likes of the famous “Hells Angels” Bomb Group. For their 50th Anniversary, they all showed up at Gowen Field and dedicated a marvellous memorial at the base. Jimmy Stewart trained at the base, and it was the home of the famous Norden Bomb Sight, a highly secret piece of equipment during the war.
Currently Idaho Air National Guard has a combined wing, flying C-130s and A-10s attack aircraft. The units there include the headquarters elements and several units of the 116th Cavalry Brigade [Heavy], the 183rd Aviation [Attack Helicopter], flying Apache and Blackhawk helicopters and several other support units.”
Michael A. Woody wrote April 14, 1998:
“I am an aircraft mechanic and worked a couple of years [1986 and 1987] in Panama. I lived near Paitilla Point airport in Panama which is now pretty well surrounded by buildings.
This airport lays north and south to the ocean. On the west side are a lot of highrise apartment buildings. On the east side are mainly one-story residences. At that time Noriega had a twin engine jet at the airport, but later it is mostly for small aircraft.
During the 1970s I was doing aerial photography, mostly farms and small businesses. Our work extended into Idaho, and I landed many times at Gowen Field. I am glad that you are keeping the history of Gowen Field alive. Where I grew up in Everett, Washington, there was a Paine Air Force Base. When it was closed, the city changed the name to Sonohomish County Airport, and the history of the air base will probably be lost. Boeing 747s are being built there now.”
Lt. Paul R. Gowen was buried in Canyon Hill Cemetery. Children born to Lt. Paul R. Gowen and Betty Wilson Gowen include Stephanie Gowen, born about 1935.