Unknown Sailor

S2c Joel Beman Cowden

Just shy of his 14th birthday, Joel Beman Cowden and his buddy Irving Davis went on a week-long camping trip along the upper Mohawk River — likely just beyond Joel’s dad’s farm in Mohawk northeast of Springfield, Oregon, population 2,364.

“The boys spent much of the time fishing,” the Eugene Register newspaper said.  “They ate fish until they were tired of that diet, then shot squirrels and young rabbits which they fried and put in stews. Experience in the various phases of woodcraft which they obtained at previous Boy Scout camps proved valuable to them, they report.”

Mr. Cowden graduated from Medford High in 1933. He enlisted in the Navy on Dec. 3, 1940, and was a seaman second class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the next December.

He was born in Oregon (probably in or near Springfield north of Eugene) on Aug. 4, 1916, to Joel B. Cowden, a farmer, and Alma Schuetzky Cowden, a homemaker. After mid-1917 but by 1920 the family was in Baker in northeast Oregon with the father cutting logs in a saw mill. The parents divorced before early 1930 with Joel back in Springfield with his mother and her new husband. His father moved to Nevada, where he was killed in a mine explosion in 1935. Young Joel was active in the Epworth League, an organization for young Methodists.

Sources: The Eugene Guard; the Medford Mail Tribune; the Reno Gazette Journal; draft registration cards for World War I and World War II; Census; Nevada death certificate; Navy muster roll. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.
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