Lewis Charles Fowler Jr.
T/5 in 406th Engineer Combat Co
Military occupational specialty: 189 (rigger)
Born 1923 in NJ, Died 2000
County of residence at enlistment: Camden County, NJ
Other residence(s): Gloucester City, NJ
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: weaver
Lew Fowler was born on August 10, 1923 in Gloucester City, NJ, the youngest of four children. His father was a produce peddler, and later a machinist in a shipyard.
Lew left school after the seventh grade. When he registered for the draft, on June 30, 1942, he did not note a job, but the 1943 city directory lists him as a weaver (presumably in a textile mill).
He and his older brother Ray had also become partners in Danceland, a dance event at a park on the Delaware River, when they were still teenagers.
Lew was one of 15 young men from Gloucester City who enlisted in the Army between March 15-22, 1943; all but three of them were 18 or 19 years old. On March 25, they found themselves on a train headed to Camp Gordon, Georgia. There they would join the newly activated 293rd Engineer Combat Battalion, and be assigned to Company A. That spring and summer they trained in Georgia and Tennessee, and that fall boarded a train for Camp Pilot Knob, aka the Desert Training Center, five miles from Yuma, Arizona (just inside the California border). In mid-January 1944, the commander of the 293rd received an order to detach his best company for a secret mission. He selected Company A, and by January 30, 1944 the men were back in Tennessee. On April 7, 1944, Company A of the 293rd was officially reassigned and renamed as the 406th Engineer Combat Company, and the unit boarded a ship to England in early May.
That July, as the men of the 406th headed across England on their way to the war, the train stopped in the city of Gloucester. Here the local NAAFI (the organization that runs recreation, canteens, and PXs for British servicemen) served them tea, which was quaffed amid cheers from the soldiers from Gloucester City, New Jersey.
After their service in the Ghost Army all 15 men returned to the states. They were feted on July 14, 1945 by the Third Ward Regular Democratic Club while back in Gloucester City on 30-day furloughs.
After he was discharged from the Army, Lew returned to New Jersey and became a member of the VFW post in Gloucester City.
In 1950 he was still working as a weaver in a textile mill; his parents had divorced and he was living with his mother, his brother Tom, and Tom's wife and baby daughter—all in the house that Lew had grown up in. In 1951 he changed jobs, taking a position as the assistant superintendent of the Gloucester City sewer plant.
Lew lived with his brother, Ray, his sister-in-law, and their five children through many of the post-war years. His Find a Grave record says that Lew was a second Dad to Ray's five children, and his obituary refers to him as "Lewis C. 'Uncle Lew' Fowler."
Lew retired from his job at the Gloucester City sewer plant in 1988.
He died of colon cancer on June 29, 2000 and is buried at Locustwood Memorial Park in Cherry Hill, NJ.
1942 draft card
1943 city directory for Camden, NJ (includes Gloucester City)
1943 article in the Morning Post (Camden, NJ) about him and 14 other Gloucester veterans of the 406th Engineers—all of them (plus others from the area) were being sent to Fort Dix for training
1945 article in the Morning Post (Camden, NJ) about him and 15 other Gloucester veterans of the 406th Engineers
1952 ad in the Courier-Post (Camden NJ) for "Danceland" which he and his brother owned/ran
2000 Social Security applications and claims index
2000 obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer (PA)
2000 US Veterans' Gravesites
2000 Find a Grave record
2004 His brother's obituary in the Courier-Post (Camden NJ)
406th Unit History Compiled