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Warren Maynard Owens
The Mound, Fairmont State
College yearbook, 1941

West Virginia Veterans Memorial


Warren Maynard Owens

"Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in blood of his followers and sacrifices of his friends."

General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Warren Maynard and Walter Charles Owens were born on January 8, 1921, in Rosemont, Taylor County, West Virginia. The twins were born to Clayton and Ada Carter Owens. In 1930, according to census records, Mr. Owens was an ice cream salesman living with the family in Clarksburg. In 1940, the family was still living in Clarksburg, and Mr. Owens was a meat cutter in a coal company store. Warren and Walter were siblings of their older brother Robert and their younger sister Henrietta.

Warren and Walter attended Washington Irving High School. In high school, Warren shone as an athlete. The brothers enrolled in Fairmont State College and are pictured in the 1941 yearbook. They were still students in 1942 when they registered for military service on February 16, 1942. The twins were football players, and Warren was a member of Lambda Alpha Sigma, known as the Letterman's Club. According to the yearbook, "It consists of the young men who have been awarded school letters by the Athletic Council for the outstanding participation in athletics." The brothers enlisted in May 1943. Their father Clayton and brother Robert also registered for the draft, but no records were found to prove that they served. In the case of Clayton Owens, who was 60 at the time, the registration was part of an effort to survey industrial skills of men who were ruled out of military service due to age. At the time of this draft, in 1942, Mr. Owens was working for Hartland Planing in Clarksburg.

The brothers trained together and through a special approval from President Roosevelt, were assigned to the same unit and to the same tank of the 68th Tank Battalion, 6th Armored Division.

In 1999, George Ramsey, of the Fairmont Times West Virginian, wrote an article about the 37 members of the 1942 Falcons football team that served during World War II. Mr. Ramsey opened the article with a statement: "The years 1941 through 1945 was [sic] an era of intense patriotic fervor across the nation. The U.S. was deeply involved in the struggles of World War II, and all across the country American youth were flocking to armed forces recruiting stations in untold numbers to offer themselves to the greater demands of the nation." ("37 Members of 1942 Falcon Football Team Were in WWII in '43; Two Were Killed," 11 November 199.) The article was accompanied by a photograph of the 1942 Fairmont State College football team with the explanation that 37 members of the 1942 team were serving in the military in 1943. The article details the service of the men. Twenty of the 37 served overseas. One was injured, and two were killed.

The impacts to the educational community and to the sports teams are detailed in the article since soldiers and airmen from Fairmont and the area weren't solely students. Teachers and coaches were set to serve as well. The result of such a high rate of service meant that the football team could not field enough players to play the games on their schedule. The football program was put on hold, as it had been during World War I.

Both Walt and Warren are pictured among the football players. After each player's name, a short description indicates where the man was serving and with which branch of the military. The impacts to Fairmont State College must have been profound since the players were a visible and well-known group of young men. They served in the Army, Navy, Army Air Corps, the Signal Corps, and the Royal Canadian Air Corps.

The 68th left New York Port of Embarkation on February 11, 1944, and arrived in England on February 24, 1944. In England, the soldiers recovered from their trip and underwent training to prepare for the European campaigns, first to liberate France. The 68th moved on to France on July 22, 1944. The battalion was moving by the end of July and encountered its first resistance as the campaign got underway in earnest. This first action was known as the Brittany Campaign. It ended with a victory for the 68th and a portion of the province of Brest within its area of operations seized. There it remained until August 12, 1944.

The next campaign was Lorient. Companies of the battalion were split up but reorganized near Orleans. They had advanced 116 miles by the middle of September, when they took a break to recuperate, perform maintenance on the vehicles, and prepare for the next campaign.

The next campaign was for Nancy, France, a town near the left bank of the Meurthe River. The object was the high ground of the Seille River east of Gremecy Wood. According to the Lt. Robert J. Burns and Lt. John S. Dahl, writers of the unit history, "Before going any further, and before the memory of bloody October 1st fades away (most of us will never forget it), we would like to quote one statistic which sums up the action in a few words: Of the thirty-seven tank commanders in the first attack wave, eighteen were either killed or wounded." ("Nancy," History of the 68th Tank Battalion, 6th Armored Division, last updated 12 June 1999, accessed 30 May 2021,

The unit history continues, noting that on October 1, 1944,

The attack was methodically carried out, and by 1040 our objective was obtained by the first and second wave. The control of all leading elements was exceptionally good under conditions which lent to confusion, for enemy small arms fire was heavy, and their artillery fire was extremely heavy, and also the infantry were not employed at the proper time. At 1100, Company "D" was committed to hold the ground west of Chambrey, covering the elements and screening the task force's right flank, While the lead elements waited, there for elements of the 35th Division to come up and secure this hard-won objective, the enemy artillery became intense, and our sharp-shooting Assault Gun Platoon was called up to nullify direct fire weapons to our left front in a well defiladed position; they consequently poured merciless fire on the positions with excellent observed results. At 1330, the task force withdrew to its forward rally point prepared to support the doughs in the event of an enemy counter-attack. The artillery fire continued to rain on our vulnerable positions, but finally at 1940 the battalion went into reserve and assembled in the vicinity of Pettencourt, while Company "C" remained in position to cover the withdrawal of the force and to support the 35th doughs as they perfected their defensive positions on the objective. Then, at 2340 Company "C" was relieved and returned to the battalion assembly area. Its mission had been accomplished, but the battalion had suffered greatly in so doing; our casualties were four killed in action, 24 wounded, and a vehicular loss of 2 tanks destroyed. But the greatest blow was the loss of Captains Polk and Bland who died in the heroic performance of their duties, and Major Brown, who had two tanks shot from under him and was seriously wounded while trying to get to the third. There were countless acts of heroism during this costly action; it would take pages to recount one tenth of them. There was the Recon Platoon intrepidly blowing paths through a mine field under terrific artillery fire; there was Lt. Olan Hafely, who took over "A" Company, when Captain Polk was killed, and successfully led it to its objective, and who was all the while seriously wounded. These are only two of many.

The tank whose crew included the Owens twins was hit. Walter Owens survived the attack. Warren was gravely injured and died the next day. His date of death was recorded as October 2, 1944. The casualty report noted that he died of wounds.

The 68th Tank Battalion would go on to fight in the Battle of the Bulge and cross the Siegfried Line twice on the German western frontier, helping liberate France and defeat Germany.

George Ramsey wrote that Frank Allesio, another Falcon from the Fairmont State College football team, was also killed during World War II, and during the same battle that cost Warren Owens his life. Another, John Tatta, was wounded. Beyond the thirty-seven Lettermen who joined the military to serve in World War II, 25 Fairmont State College men were either killed or were missing in action. The price of war was steep for the education communities in the Fairmont area.

On October 31, 1948, the Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram reported that Warren Owens would be buried in West Virginia, at long last. ("Last Services for PVT. Owens Will Be Friday," October 31, 1948). He rests in peace in the Bridgeport City Cemetery.
Military marker for Warren M Owens, Bridgeport City Cemetery. Courtesy Cynthia Mullens

Military marker for Warren M Owens, Bridgeport City Cemetery. Courtesy Cynthia Mullens

Research for this biography included a review of the death registration for 1944, the year that Warren Owens died. The death is noted there. On the same page, Marion County deaths were recorded that resulted from the 1944 tornado that ripped through parts of north central West Virginia. The tornado resulted in the deaths of 103 people. 1944 was truly a sorrowful year, not only for Fairmont, but many communities in the region.

Article prepared by Cynthia Mullens
June 2021


Warren Maynard Owens

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