Jackie McGowan takes Stolen Valor to the grave

| August 5, 2013

Jackie McGowan

We wrote about this guy, Jackie McGowan, in June when he was noticed by AverageNCO. His obituary said that he had earned 17 Bronze Stars, three Silver Stars and that he had been a POW. Well, we thought that he was too young to join the Navy, but it turns out that he joined when he was 17, so he was just barely old enough to join the war. He served on the USS Houston which had a stellar record against the Japanese Navy until it was torpedoed in the Battle of Sunda Strait on February 28, 1942 and the crew of 1061, including the Marine detachment, were killed or captured by the Japanese. All hands. Jackie McGowan enlisted 17 months later;

Jackie McGowan upgraded discharge

McGowan did serve on the USS Houston, but not until Oct 43 about 20 months after the USS Houston (CA-30) was sunk and the USS Houston was rechristened from the USS Vicksburg (CL-81);

Jackie mcGowan's assignment to USS Houston

Two years later, McGowan was awarded a dishonorable discharge for stealing from his fellow sailors and a few hours of AWOL. Then on his way to the place he was getting his discharge, he was AWOL for three days. His defense was that he was too young. It didn’t work.

Jackie McGowan CM

In 1947, he unsuccessfully tried to get his discharge disposition upgraded, and again in 1984, when he was successful getting it upgraded to a General discharge (the one you see above). He immediately filed with the VA for status as a POW, and of course, he wasn’t, so he didn’t get the distinction;

Jackie McGowan POW status

Looking at his awards, he may have served in the Pacific Theater because of the Occupation Medal with an “A” device (for Asia) for service after Sept. 2, 1945 in the theater. but there are certainly not 17 Bronze Stars or 3 Silver Stars. He’s also wearing a Purple Heart in the picture and a POW Medal, I think I see some Vietnam stuff in there, too.

Thanks to Pat for doing all of the heavy lifting on the paperwork for this one.

Category: Phony soldiers

Comments (73)

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  1. NHSparky says:

    Why…for the love of God and all that is holy…why do people insist on this level of fucktardery?

  2. Valkyrie says:

    And now some family or friends will come here and blast TAH for outing him. It’ll be all your fought and no blame will lie with the one who lied.

    Do you ever get tired of this song and dance?

  3. David says:

    Jonn – gotta put locations in…especially for ones like these. There are those of us who drink beer and may want to give his grave the final salute it deserves.

  4. Jabatam says:

    Just down the road from me. I’m glad he wasn’t buried in Marion National Cemetery. It’s bad enough that this turd was given full military honors at his funeral; I’d go apeshit if I knew he was buried in the same place as my father

  5. Jabatam says:

    David, the obit linked says where he will be laid to rest

  6. Jonn Lilyea says:

    Following the funeral service, Jack will be taken to Sunset Memory Garden Cemetery, Kokomo, where he will be laid to rest with military rites provided by the Kokomo VFW 1152 and United States Navy Military Rites Teams.

    Luckily his wife predeceased Jackie, so it’ll probably be his kids who call me names. That I can handle. Grieving widows not so much.

  7. Green Thumb says:



    No winners.

  8. PintoNag says:

    I’d be curious to see a picture of his headstone. And even though he had his discharge upgraded, does that entitle him to a military funeral? He was still discharged dishonorably.

  9. OWB says:

    Disgusting. Utterly disgusting.

    Any service organization would be happy to have a willing worker who had actually served helping them out, especially if they were honest about their original transgressions. This clown obviously never reformed since he kept rocking the lie and did quite a lot later in life to add to the lies.

  10. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    Wow. As knuckleheads go, this guy is in a class all his own. We have seen so many liars, so many valor thieves, so many pukes–yet, this guy, at least to me, managed to burrow beneath them all. Unbelievable.

  11. JBS says:

    Can you just apply for POW status on a whim and without any flak? VA:”Sorry Sir you are denied because you were not a POW”. SM:”My bad”.

  12. Anonymous says:

    So he serves on a ship rechristened after a cruiser which sunk with every man either dying or being captured. Years after the fact he claims to have been on the original (CA-30) USS Houston, hoping that the same name will fool the VA- likely to steal benefits?

    Once a thief, always a thief.

  13. Ex-PH2 says:

    Yes, there’s some Vietnam stuff in there, too. If he was 17 in 1943, he’d have been 37 in 1963, and he could have served in Vietnam but did not.

  14. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    “Then on his way to the place he was getting his discharge, he was AWOL for three days. His defense was that he was too young. It didn’t work.” Too young? Shall we look up the number of 17-year olds who are forever 17, thanks to their supreme sacrifice in WW II? Or how about that other fellow. He was 13 or 14 when he enlisted and later went AWOL and was declared a deserter. He deserted to get into the fight, stowing aboard a Navy vessel en route to some Pacific island. The place was Iwo Jima. Six days into his 17th year, with Iwo and hospital behind him, he received the Medal of Honor. His name was Jack Lucas. He was a Marine.

  15. Jonn Lilyea says:

    Oh, yeah, I have tearful letter that Jackie wrote to President Reagan to get his discharge upgraded in which he says he didn’t steal the twenty dollar watch, he was framed, for some reason. Now keep in mind that a twenty dollar watch in those days was like a Rolex, since it cost about a month’s pay or more. Well, the president’s office sent his letter to the Navy Secretary who relented, and then Jackie turned around and thanked them by applying for status as a POW. And the picture says he was his local VFW Post commander, no doubt wearing the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and POW medal every chance he could.

  16. A Proud Infidel says:

    One thing is for sure, and it’s that he’s being held accountable now. A lying douchebag until the very end, and a fine example of what Don Shipley was talking a out when he said “A lot of these fakers will take their lies with them to the grave.”. I pity his kids and Grandkids, he shat all over them with his stolen valor charade!

  17. Mike says:

    Haha sooooooo good

  18. Just An Old Dog says:

    Looks like he was an active member of the VFW too. It really grinds my gears that shitbirds like this are total douchebags while in, then 30 years later they all the sudden fall in love with the Navy. Trying to get POW status too? I feel sorry for his kids, but the asshole needs to be outed.
    Hes wearing a USMC marksmen badge as well.


  19. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    You ideotts.

    He filed for POW status because he was only 17 and so young and he was by proxy a POW.

    Don’t you get it?

    Oh … I joined when I was 17 … And stayed 32 years!

    How many stars for my POW medal do I get for 32 years?

  20. ExHack says:

    Turd … Dried turd.

  21. John says:

    I don’t see anything that says he received a dishonorable discharge. The documents posted say that he got a bad conduct discharge that was changed to a general.

  22. MAJMike says:

    In a way, I’m glad these sacks-of-offal are around. They continue to remind me that my less-than-stellar career was an honorable one and my service earned me my plot at the local National Cemetery.

  23. DaveO says:

    For those who believe in an afterlife, he’s either faced the Court about stealing valor and having a hot time of it, or being reborn as a globster.

  24. CC Senor says:

    @22 I hear ya. My younger brothers got to do all the “John Wayne” stuff while was forever policing up stuff. What the hell, every knight needs his squire and there’s no shame in that.

  25. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    @21. In his petition it was noted that a search of his belongings revealed four wallets and other items. He had already pleaded GUILTY to theft of a watch. The petition was denied and his Bad Conduct discharge was left intact. Yeah, iy’s true that he did not receive a dishonorable discharge but that’s like saying Jeffrey Dahmer didn’t eat all of his victims. The miserable SOB was a thief. I’m waiting for someone to show up here to say he made a mistake as a kid and was a swell guy.

  26. NHSparky says:

    @21–BCD or DD, matters little. The fact he is, was, and forever will be a lying shitbag is the point.

    I wasn’t the best sailor, but thank God I wasn’t the worst, and I never made up some bullshit story to cover up whatever I’ve done wrong.

    And I sure as fuck never stole from my shipmates.

  27. NavCWORet says:

    @19, MC, You get the two on your collar devices/hat.

  28. JP says:

    Alive: He was a lying, POS poser.

    Dead: He’s still a lying, POS poser. Only deader.

    Fuck him.

  29. Combat Historian says:

    Shitbird was a prisoner alright…he was in the custody of the Shore Patrol for theft and AWOL. Sad and pathetic…

  30. Ex-PH2 says:

    Remember, confession is good for the soul. Hamlet was angry that his father was murdered and went to his grave unshriven. His father’s ghost was doomed to walk the bounds of his castle for eternity. A terrible price to pay for not confessing your sins before you die.

    McGowan went to his end unshriven. The crew of the USS Houston wait for him.

  31. DaveO says:

    #22: Agreed

  32. Clamsgotlegs says:

    Does his discharge preclude him from getting a free marker for his gravesite?


    Someone might want to contact the cemetary if he doesn’t qualify and give them the heads up on the matter. I would anticipate the family getting his military records and then losing the DD214–by accident of course.

  33. HMCS(FMF) ret. says:

    This assclown was probably a real piece of work when he was alive and going to the local VFW, telling stories about what he “did” in the Big One… and he fellow vets at the local VFW elected him post commander back in the 90’s? I’m stunned that nobody raised the bullshit flag on this clown when he was alive.

    FWIW – this is my biggest issue with veterans organizations; nobody seems to be willing to put any effort in to verify that a person is a bonafide vet and, if they are wearing ribbons/metals, verifying that they are actually eligible to wear them. The DVA can’t seem to get it’s shit together on this, and the vet organizations seem to have the same problem as the DVA. It’s sheer laziness and incompetence that allows for this to happen.

    I’m sure that there are local posts/chapters that do the homework on new members, and turn away the turds that try to sneak in… but it seems like that this happens too frequently and the local chapter involved gives the usual “well, shit happens” answer when questions are asked.

  34. MrBill says:

    @23 – right now, he’s explaining to Saint Peter that he has to get into heaven – after all, he was Pope. Twice.

  35. MrBill says:

    @32 – a general discharge should get him a marker.

    “Generally, in order to receive VA benefits and services the Veteran/Servicemember’s character of discharge or service must be under other than dishonorable conditions (e.g., honorable, under honorable conditions, general). However, individuals receiving undesirable, bad conduct, dishonorable and other discharges may qualify for VA benefits depending on a determination made by VA.”


  36. USMCE8Ret says:

    So he had the proclivity to steal from his ship mates, claiming his youth was the reason the ol’ man should go easy on him?

    Yeah, Okay. Obviously he never learned anything about stealing before he entered the navy, or during, or after. I’m surprised the BCNR upgraded his discharge to General Under Honorable.

  37. USMCE8Ret says:

    @33- I feel the same way. It’s the kind of laziness and who knows what else that is so pervasive in just about any kind of institutional setting that’s supposed to have some kind of guidelines.

    I guess integrity and accountability went away in 2008 – maybe even before.

  38. Hondo says:

    I was taught two things:

    a. It’s best not to speak ill of the dead.
    b. If you can’t say anything nice about someone, best to just stay quiet.

    Here’s what I have to say about this “fine sailor” McGowan:


  39. Tom Page says:

    Bury this piece of shit anywhere but alongside anyone who served honorably.

  40. captain*arizona says:

    what do ted nugent dick cheney frank sinatra bob hope john wayne ronal reagan “W” rush limbo have in common? they were super patriotic chicken hawk cowards and DRAFT DOGGERS! add all neo-cons!

  41. HMCS(FMF) ret. says:

    Jonn – clean up on aisle 40…

  42. clamsgotlegs says:

    I’m concerned that the family will ask for the stars/purple heart on his marker.

  43. Dave Thul says:

    I wish this was a local VFW f*ckup, but the cap he is wearing is of a VFW national officer or committeeman (silver piping and the word national on the right side). So he persuaded guys at the local post, district, state and national level that his record was clean.

    This is why I wont put a guy in my post without a clear readable 214, even if I served with him in country.

  44. You should have more respect for the dead…..where’s he buried so I can go piss on his grave.

  45. FatCircles0311 says:

    As younger member of the VFW I’m getting tired of this as well. Our local chapter’s process is pretty balls and easily exploitable. I’m wondering if I should start some shit to actually FIOA all members and cross check with their paperwork they turned in initially to clean up any shit that’s passed by.

    It’s sad you can’t trust anyone anymore.

  46. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    @38. Hondo: As a general proposition, most (if not all) of us agree that speaking ill of the dead is bad form. But there are exceptions, including that reserved for those who worked evil in their lives (e.g., Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, OBL) and those whose misdeeds came to light after their passing or who were deservedly reviled by many in death as they were in life.(Benedict Arnold and many politicians–e.g., Murtha–come to mind.)

  47. A Proud Infidel & Patriot says:

    @40, Quick, some0one call 9-11111, we need a WAAAAHmbulance to come take care of #40!

  48. 10th MTN NCO says:

    How was this guy admitted into the VFW, much less held office too? And he is not entitled a military burial either. Both of these are only applicable with an Honorable Discharge. Several people screwed the pooch on this one!

  49. Hondo says:

    The author of comment 40 is also rather, well, ignorant. Reagan enlisted in the Army Reserve in 1937; was commissioned later that same year; and served on active duty in the Army in World War II from Feb 1942 to Dec 1945. During that time, his units had produced 400+ training films for the Army.

    He did not serve overseas because he was medically restricted to stateside duty.

  50. Combat Historian says:

    #49: Reagan tried hard to get into line duty overseas, and the eye doctor basically put the hardline kabosh to that, stating that due to Reagan’s extremely poor and degrading eyesight, he would have endangered himself and his fellow troops if he was anywhere near the frontlines. BTW, Reagan enlisted in 1937 in the Cavalry, and not a CS or CSS branch.