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OH153 Thurman Cowan Oral History

Thurman Cowan Oral History

Collection Title: Jackson Purchase Oral History Project – Black Veterans - World War II

Series Number: OH153

Interviewee: Cowan, Thurman, 1924-


Date interviewed: October 23, 1986

Processed by: Benjamin J. Drake

Date processed: November 11, 2011

Description: 1 sound disc (34 minutes)

Abstract: Thurman Cowan details his experiences as an African American soldier during the Second World War. He describes the construction of Camp Tyson at Paris, Tennessee prior to the United States entering the war. He discusses his military duties while serving the United States Marines as a "mess-man," life in Hawaii and Guam during the war, and racial issues he encountered while in the military. Cowan concludes the interview with his discharge and his post-war life in Chicago, Illinois.

Biographical / Historical note: Thurman Cowan was born on September 4, 1924 in Henry County, Tennessee. Prior to the Second World War, he resided in Paris, Tennessee and worked on the construction of Camp Tyson. At seventeen, he moved to Chicago, Illinois and worked in a mattress factory until he was drafted into the United States Marines in August of 1943. He trained with an African American regiment at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was first stationed at Pearl Harbor then at Guam. When the war concluded, he returned to Camp Lejeune and was discharged on February 28, 1946. After the war, he worked for the Electrical Division of General Motors and for the Chicago Main Post Office.

General information: No user access to original recordings. Use audio user copies, digital derivatives, transcripts, and/or tape indexes. This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code). Permission for reproduction must be requested from Murray State University.

Subject Headings / Descriptors:

Cowan, Thurman, 1924-

Camp Tyson (Tenn.) – History.

Henry County (Tenn.) – History.

Paris (Tenn.) – History.

Chicago (Ill.)

World War, 1939-1945 – Participation, African American.

World War, 1939-1945 – Personal narratives, American.