Lieutenant Commander Leo J. McGowan, serving at the Naval Torpedo Station at Newport, Rhode Island, died at age 40 in Boston, Massachusetts after a three month's illness.
Born in Benson, Minnesota, he was the ninth of ten children born to Patrick and Sarah Breen McGowan. His father died when Leo was less than two years old. He lived in Benson and attended public schools there, working as a street news boy when he was 11. When he was 15 years old, his family moved to nearby Appleton, after his older brothers purchased the newspaper there. He graduated from Appleton High School in 1916.
He was appointed a Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy from the Minnesota Seventh District in June 1917. In the summer of 1918, during World War I, he participated in a practice cruise on board the U.S.S. Missouri (BB-11) and received an Atlantic Fleet Clasp on his Victory Medal. During the summer of 1919, Leo served on the USS Kentucky (BB-6) in the Atlantic fleet as a Midshipman 2nd class.
Upon graduation from the Naval Academy, in June 1921, he was commissioned Ensign, and assigned to the battleship Mississippi (BB-41). In 1923, he was commended as one of the officers contributing most to the engineering excellence of the battleship for that year. He was sent to flying school at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, from February to May 1924, before assignment to the U.S.S. Langley. He was commissioned Lieutenant, junior grade, in June 1924. 
HIs next assignment was as torpedo officer on the U.S.S. Somers, where he received commendations for Battle Torpedo Practices for both 1926 and 1927. He was promoted to Lieutenant in June 1927.
He returned to the Naval Academy in June 1929, for a Postgraduate Course in General Line Duties, until April 1930, and then reported for duty at the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island. He served in the U.S.S.Bushnell and returned to the Naval Torpedo Station in October 1930. From January 1931 to June 1933 he was attached to the U.S.S. Holland and was assigned additional duty as Division Torpedo and Gunnery Officer, Submarine Division Twelve, Battle Fleet. He returned to the Naval Torpedo Station in June 1933, was Torpedo and Gunnery Officer on Staff of Commander Submarine Squadron Six from June 1935 to June 1938, when he returned to his last duty, at the Naval Torpedo Station, in Newport. He was appointed to Lieutenant Commander from June 1937.
Leo married Irvine Lidstone of Bellingham, Washington, in San Francisco on February 11, 1925. They are the parents of a daughter Mary Adair (Molly). The family rented an apartment in Washington, D.C., while Leo was taking the postgraduate course at the Naval Academy.
Leo's birth certificate lists his name as "Lawrence James" which appears to be an error by the person who recorded it. The family Bible, in the handwriting of Leo's mother lists his name as Leo. All other references, including naval records and his death certificate, list his name as Leo.
Have you taken a DNA test for genealogy? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.
Leo is 23 degrees from SJ Baty, 26 degrees from Orville Redenbacher and 21 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.