Owens, Donald D. (773rd)

Donald D. Owens 1Donald D. Owens

Biography: Donald Dean Owens was born on August 3, 1925, in Navarre, Stark County, Ohio. He was one of two sons and a daughter born to Gerald H. Owens and Tracy M. Define. He attended Navarre Elementary School and by 1930, the family was living in Massillon, OH.

Following his parent divorce in 1937, he moved to Cleveland with his father and resumed his schooling at James Rhodes Ford High School where he played basketball and football.

Service Time: In early 1943, Donald left high school and entered the Army. At some point, he was assigned to the 773rd Tank Destroyer Battalion and eventually became a crew member on an M10 tank destroyer in Company C, 1st Platoon, commanded by Sergeant Ernest C. Rabe. On October 9, 1944, around 0650 in the morning, 1st platoon was supporting the 3rd Battalion, 315th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Division, in the Foret de Parrot, Northeast of Luneville, France. They encountered heavy, enemy high explosive fire at 0715 and pulled back. At that time, their TD was hit and set afire, blowing Sgt. Rabe and T5 Peabody out of the vehicle. The other three crew members, including Donald were listed as Missing in Action (MIA) in the unit’s “Tank Destroyer Daily Report” dated October 9, 1944. The Daily Report for the 10th states: “Capt. J.D. Singer, Bn Surgeon verified fact that three distinct body fragments were left in burned M10 of 1st pltn. Survivor’s statements further verify fact that Cpl. Hellums, Pfc Harris and Pvt Owens were burned to death.” The men are listed as Killed in Action (KIA) in this report.

In November of 1946, personnel of the U.S. Army Graves Registration Command removed the remains from the destroyed M-10 tank destroyer. The remains of the three soldiers were then transported and buried in Neuville-en-Condroz, Belgium, as unidentified soldiers. The men were eventually listed on the Tablets of the Missing, Epinal American Cemetery and Memorial, Epinal, Department des Vosges, Lorraine, France.

In July of 2003, a Frenchman, Gerard Louis, exploring the Foret de Parrot (Parroy National Forest) in eastern France, found human remains and other materials including an identification bracelet bearing the serial number of one of Pvt Owens’s crew mates. These new discoveries led to further investigations by the U.S. Army from 2006-2008. During this time, the M-10 site produced additional identification evidence. This led to the grave in Belgium being exhumed and all remains being forwarded to Hawaii for DNA testing for final identification. After the DNA testing was completed and the identification process was done, Donald was brought back to the U.S. for burial.

Donald D. Owens 2Private Donald Dean Owens is buried in the Arlington National Cemetery, Section 60, Site 5735, Arlington, Arlington County, West Virginia. Thank you to Dwight “Andy” Anderson for use of the main photo of Donald. Thank you also to Find-A-Grave contributors Anne Cady, for use of the grave marker photo, and Skyequest for providing information.

A special thank you to Monsieur Gerard Louis for his hard work and unending perseverance to see that Donald and his crewmates were finally identified and honored for their lives and sacrifices.