Cowan was assigned to “M” Company, 3rd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division when he went missing after an attack near Hoengsong, South Korean on Feb. 12, 1951. He was 19 years old when he was listed as missing in action.
Service members captured by enemy forces and later released reported that Cowan died as a prisoner of war at Camp 1 in Changsong, North Korea in May 1951. Remains were recovered from the camp Sept. 7, 1954 but were declared unidentifiable and transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, where Cowan was buried as X-14230.
The remains listed at X-14230 were exhumed June 13 and identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency laboratory, using dental records, chest radiograph comparison and anthropological analyses.
“William’s family has waited more than six decades to get this news, and we are grateful that they have received closure and will soon be able to lay him to rest,” Haslam said. “This Tennessean gave his life for us, and we humbly remember and recognize his ultimate sacrifice.”
“It is difficult to imagine how the Cowan family has endured the pain of knowing their loved one is gone, but not knowing where his body was buried,” Grinder said. “This 19-year-old Tennessean is part of our proud military history, but Pfc. William Cowan was also a son, grandson and brother. We are both saddened and relieved to know this hero will soon be laid to rest under a headstone that bears his name.”
Cowan will be laid to rest Saturday at noon at the Fredonia Cemetery in Fredonia, Ohio.
Haslam has declared a day of mourning and ordered flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset Saturday in honor of Cowan’s ultimate sacrifice.
Cowan is survived by his nieces and nephews to include William Lane Jr., of Pataskala, Ohio, Larry Lane, of Kingston, Ohio, Connie Horton, of Utica, Ohio, Maryetta Zimmer, of Columbus, Ohio, Dora Jones, of Newark, Ohio and Betty Van Zandt, of Port Charlotte, Fla.