Sergeant Robert A. Owens, USMC, (1920-1943)
Robert Allen Owens was born on 13 September 1920 in Greenville, South Carolina. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps from that state in February 1942. After completing recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina, he received further training with the First Training Battalion of the First Marine Division at New River, North Carolina and remained with the unit when its designation was changed to Company A, First Battalion, Third Marines, Third Marine Division. In the fall, Owens' division relocated to the Pacific for combat duty and served at Tutuila, American Samoa before receiving additional combat training at New Zealand and Guadalcanal.
On 1 November 1943, Sergeant Owens landed with his division at Cape Torokina, Bougainville, Solomon Islands for combat against the Japanese. When the advance of his unit was threatened by a well-camouflaged and protected enemy 75 millimeter gun, he took the initiative to save his fellow Marines. Covered by fire from his comrades, he charged directly into the the emplacement and drove out the opposing troops. While silencing this important Japanese artillery piece, Owens was mortally wounded. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" on this occasion, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Robert A. Owens is buried at Manila Cemetery, Manila, Philippine Islands.
USS Robert A. Owens (DD-827), 1949-1987, was named in honor of Sergeant Robert A. Owens.
This page features the only image we have concerning Robert A. Owens.
Photo #: NH 106358|
Sergeant Robert A. Owens, USMC
Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official
publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 234.
Robert A. Owens was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" while serving with a Marine Division in action against Japanese forces at Cape Torokina, Bougainville, Solomon Islands on 1 November 1943. When the advance of his unit was threatened by a well-camouflaged enemy 75 millimeter gun, he took the initiative to save his fellow Marines. Covered by fire from his comrades, Sergeant Owens charged directly into the point of fire. He entered the emplacement and drove out the enemy troops, who were killed by the other Marines, but was himself mortally wounded while silencing this important enemy weapon.
U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph
Online Image: 37KB; 580 x 765 pixels
Medal of Honor citation of Private Robert A. Owens, USMC
(as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor,
1861-1949, The Navy", page 234):
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with a Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during extremely hazardous landing operations at Cape Torokina, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, on 1 November 1943. Forced to pass within disastrous range of a strongly protected, well-camouflaged Japanese 75-mm. regimental gun strategically located on the beach, our landing units were suffering heavy losses in casualties and boats while attempting to approach the beach, and the success of the operations was seriously threatened. Observing the ineffectiveness of Marine rifle and grenade attacks against the incessant, devasting fire of the enemy weapon and
aware of the urgent need for prompt action, Sergeant Owens unhesitatingly determined to charge the gun bunker from the front and, calling on four of his comrades to assist him, carefully placed them to cover the fire of the two adjacent hostile bunkers. Choosing a moment that provided a fair opportunity for passing these bunkers, he immediately charged into the mouth of the steadily firing cannon and entered the emplacement through the fire port, driving the gun crew out of the rear door and insuring their destruction before he himself was wounded. Indomitable and aggressive in the face of almost certain death, Sergeant Owens silenced a powerful gun which was of inestimable value to the Japanese defense and, by his brilliant initiative and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice, contributed immeasurably to the success of the vital landing operations. His valiant conduct throughout reflects the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service."
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