Americans in Wartime Experience

Bill Cowper

World War II

William F. Cowper- World War II - US Coast Guard

William Cowper entered the United States Coast Guard from Lockport, New York immediately after his graduation from high school in 1943. Only 17 years of age, he completed boot camp and transferred to Camp Lejeune, where he trained to operate amphibious personnel landing craft. After about a year of joint training with the Marines, Seaman Cowper and his crew boarded the USS SHELIAK (AKA-62) in New York and began their journey to the Pacific Ocean, via the Panama Canal.

The transit took SN Cowper to several memorable stops along the way, which included Pearl Harbor and the recently liberated Philippines. He made it to the tip of the spear in time to participate in the Battle of Okinawa, which began on the 1st of April 1945.

SN Cowper describes in detail his two landing runs on the island, where they met no resistance from the shore and his eyewitness accounts of the kamikaze attacks on the larger naval vessels. After the Japanese surrender, he and his shipmates returned to Norfolk, Virginia and discharged in 1946.

Bio prepared by Shannon P. Reck, MMH

Bio prepared by Shannon P. Reck, MMH

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The Americans in Wartime Experience explores the impact of war and conflict on America since WWI. It honors those who served in the military and on the home front and highlights the values they demonstrated in serving – duty, honor, and courage. It examines how periods of conflict have profoundly shaped American society. It educates visitors about the costs of war, both on a personal and social level. It challenges visitors to remember the service and sacrifices made by their fellow citizens to preserve and defend our freedoms. LEARN MORE

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