Edward McAdams Cowardin
CPT in 23rd Headquarters Co
Born 1911 in VA, Died 1981
Other residence(s): Richmond, VA; Newport News, VA; Lynchburg, VA
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: phone company engineer
College education before the war: Virginia Military Institute (VMI) 4 years
Ed Cowardin was born on March 8, 1911 in Richmond, VA, the middle of three children. His father was a dentist who died when Edward was only 10 years old.
He graduated from John Marshall High School in Richmond in 1928 where he held the rank of SGT in the Cadet Corps. He and his older brother both worked for a few years after high school (Ed as a telephone office clerk) before both of them matriculated at VMI (Virginia Military Institute).
Ed graduated from VMI in 1935 with a BS in Electrical Engineering. He was academically distinguished during his career there, entitling him to wear gold stars on his sleeves. He also managed the varsity boxing team and was associate editor of The Cadet, VMI's weekly newspaper.
After graduation he went to work as a telephone engineer for the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company; this would remain his employer until he retired 42 years later. During the 1940s he lived and worked in Newport News, VA.
On March 26, 1940 he married Lela Bouldin Shewmake. He enlisted in the Army on March 2, 1942 as a 1LT of Field Artillery, and was eventually assigned to the 23rd Headquarters Company of the Ghost Army. Ed earned a promotion to the rank of CPT during his time in Europe with the unit. When he arrived home on board a ship landing in Newport News, VA, on July 2, 1945, he was interviewed by the Newport News Daily Press. In a nod to both the requested secrecy and the wide-ranging work of the unit, the article states that he was with "the 12th Army group in a special troop unit. For his work he was awarded the Bronze Star which he refused to discuss. With his special troop he participated in every campaign in Europe." Ed was stationed for the rest of 1945 at Pine Camp, NY along with fellow GA veteran and VMI alumnus Nelson Hotchkiss. Ed was promoted to the rank of MAJ before his discharge on January 1, 1946.
In 1946, Ed took up his phone company work again, this time in the Lynchburg, VA office. He and Lela became the parents of two children in the late 1940s—both named after themselves—Lela Bouldin and Edward McAdams, Jr.
The family lived several years in Lynchburg, but eventually returned to Richmond, where Ed would spend the rest of his life. He was active in the Army Reserves, earning a promotion to LTC. He was also a member of the English-Speaking Union, the Virginia Historical Society, and the Sons of the Confederacy. He was a member of the Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Richmond where he also served as a vestryman.
Ed died on July 27, 1981 of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and is buried at Riverview Cemetery in Richmond.
1935 VMI yearbook (see below)
1928 John Marshall HS yearbook
1935 VMI yearbook
1935 article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA) re his activities and academic performance at VMI
1940 marriage record
1945 article from the Daily Press (Newport News VA) re his return from Europe
1945 article in Richmond News Leader (VA); he is CPT and stationed at Pine Camp along with fellow GA veteran Nelson Hotchkiss; both of their wives are with them
1946 article in the Richmond News Leader (VA) reporting they are moving to Lynchburg
1949 Lynchburg VA city directory
1955 Richmond city directory
1964 article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA) re his church membership
1981 VA death record
1981 Find a Grave record
1981 Social Security death index
1981 obituary in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)
1981 Virginia death record