SC2c Thomas Lea Owsley

Unknown Sailor

SC2c Thomas Lea Owsley

Thomas Lea Owsley was five when his father died of a heart condition in 1924. A sister, Nellie, died three years later when she fell through the ice while skating with friends near their home in Hagerman, Idaho 28 miles northwest of Twin Falls.

Thomas and his mother, Elizabeth Gourley Owsley, remained in Hagerman, a town of about 400. The 1930 Census said she worked as a tester at the Gooding Co-op creamery. She remarried that same year.

Thomas Owsley graduated in May 1938 from Hagerman High School, where he was an end on the football team and served as vice president of his junior class. He enlisted in the Navy in November.

Mr. Owsley was a ship’s cook and petty officer second class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

He was honored at a memorial service in February 1942 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Hagerman. The American Legion post in town was named in his honor.

He was born June 23, 1919 in Hagerman, where his father, Nat, was a farmer. The parents were long remembered for their novel wedding — on a rowboat in the middle of the Snake River. One of his brothers and one of her sisters were also in the boat, and they married the next year. Mrs. Owsley lived to age 93.


Sources: The Times-News of Twin Falls, Idaho; the Idaho Evening Times of Twin Falls; Idaho death certificate; Navy muster roll; Census; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Newspaper photograph. 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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