Tuskegee Airman Laid to Rest

 In History, Veterans

Sometimes it takes a while for history to catch up to delivering proper honor to those who deserve it. That could be said for Tuskegee Airman Edwin Cowan.

Marine Veteran Bill Muckler sent this statement:

The cremains of Tuskegee Airman Flight Officer Edwin Cowan and wife Theda were reinterred with full military honors at the Cape Canaveral National Cemetery on 7 February 2019 at 1500 Hours on a beautiful Florida day. The Cowans were originally buried in an unmarked grave without military honors. 

A Celebration of Life was held at the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center afterward where twelve family members from four states were in attendance along with eleven Tuskegee Airmen and Associates. The Brevard Veterans Center was the driving and organizing force behind this inspiring 18 month project. Principles in the project were Ray Norman, USA; Bill Kowalcyk, UMC; Donn Weaver, USA; Chip Hanson, USMC; and Bill Muckler, USMC.

The Tuskegee Airmen began their storied careers in the first training program for black pilots at Tuskegee Field in Alabama. During WWII, the unit flew 15,000 sorties in 2 years of combat. Edwin Cowan was one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, and held the position of Flight Officer. He and his wife were originally buried at St. Luke’s Episcopal Cemetery on Merritt Island, according to Florida Today. History nearly forgot them, with not even a grave marker to show his service.

Edwin Cowan during WWII- screenshot of family photo

When Ray Norman, a member of the Brevard Veterans Center, learned that Flight Officer Cowan was buried without any military honors in an unmarked grave, he and the team of veterans listed above set about to fix what was an egregious oversight of history. It took them 18 months, but they were finally able to get the couple re-interred at Cape Canaveral National Cemetery with full military honors.

An honor long overdue, rectified by US veterans who cared.

Photo courtesy of Bill Muckler
Photo courtesy of Bill Muckler

Featured photo courtesy of Bill Muckler

Showing 9 comments
  • Bill

    This is such a wonderful tribute to our heroes from long ago. Thank you the beautiful homage for the Cowan family.

  • Carol Womble

    This is truly a beautiful article about a hero that had been forgotten. I shared it with a close friend who lives in CA as her father was a WWII veteran.

  • William K Kowalczyk

    As a Marine who retrieved his remains from a unmarked grave to seeing him and his wife later to rest in a national cemetery along side his fellow veterans was a great honor.

  • D. D. Clayton

    Very moving and inspirational tribute to true American heroes.

  • Gerald

    Wonderful article. It just goes to show what lengths veterans will go in service to another veteran. Proud to be a veteran and part of this band of Brothers.

  • Richard

    What a great story about the hero forgotten and the hero who found him. A lot of time, effort and dedication went into making this happen, all done by a volunteer cadre. Thank you and thanks for publishing the article.

  • Darryl L. Benton

    Wow, nice job of covering this event. I have much respect for these Airman and all our veterans. This tribute is such a great job of Honoring these Heroes. Thank you.

  • Doris Hendricks

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Raymond Norman, CWO, USAR

    Serendipity led me to the burial location during Pioneer Days at St. Luke’s. At one time I was the lawn mower person and may have mowed the grass over the unmarked location for the Cowan’s. A photo of FO Cowan with a fixed look at the camera in one photo gave me a two year challenge that a wonderful group that supported the effort. Thanks to the cooperation of Bill Kowalsky USMC, supportive motion from the Brevard Veterans Center & Museum, Donn Weaver of BVC, Fr. Roberts of St. Luke’s, the USAF PIO and the Cowan relatives we were able to provide an appropriate recognition and relocation for the Cowan’s. May they RIP.

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