SEAMAN FIRST CLASS EUGENE JOSEPH ROWE, JR grew up in the Bettlewood section of Haddon Township NJ. This neighborhood is linked geographically to neighboring Oaklyn, and Gene, as he was known to his friends played football with the Oaklyn Boys Club. The son of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Rand Rowe, of 11 East Collingswood Avenue, his father was well known semi-pro baseball player.
Eugene Joseph Rowe completed Collingswood Junior High School on June 10, 1937. He attended Collingswood (NJ) High School prior to entering the U.S. Navy, but did not graduate. After leaving Collingswood High, he attended Camden County Vocational School in Pennsauken NJ, and spent six months in a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, and also worked for a spell for the Radio Corporation of America in Camden NJ.
Eugene Rowe enlisted in the Navy on October 16, 1940 with his classmate from Collingswood High School, Walter Hamilton "Billy" Simon. They both completed basic training at Newport RI, graduating with Company 49 in December of 1940. Eugene Rowe had a five day furlough at home, and was then sent to Bremerton WA, where he, along with Billy Simon, joined the crew of the battleship USS Arizona. Seaman Rowe was initially assigned as a cook, and later transferred to a gun crew. He sailed with the Arizona to Hawaii in June of 1941. On October 1, 1941 he was promoted to Seaman First Class. His family had last heard from him in a November 23, 1941 letter where he wrote that he liked the Navy and Hawaii.
He was serving at Pearl Harbor HI aboard the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked. Japanese aircraft appeared in the air over Pearl Harbor just before 8:00 am on this Sunday morning. The color detail was on deck in anticipation of raising the flag at the stern at 8:00. The Arizona came under attack almost immediately, and at about 8:10 received a hit by a 800-kilogram bomb just forward of turret two on the starboard side. Within a few seconds the forward powder magazines exploded, gutting the forward part of the ship. The foremast and forward superstructure collapsed forward into the void created by the explosion and turrets one and two, deprived of support, dropped more than 20 feet relative to their normal position. The explosion ignited furious fires in the forward part of the ship.
majority of the crew were either killed by the explosion and fire or
were trapped by the rapid sinking of the ship.
Eugene Joseph Rowe was one of 1,177 sailors aboard the Arizona to lose their lives that day, along with his Collingswood High School classmate, Seaman First Class Walter Hamilton "Billy" Simon, and John Henry Bangert, of nearby Glendora NJ.. His family was notified of his passing by telegram on December 15, 1941. He received the Purple Heart and a Certificate of Merit, posthumously. There would be many more telegrams sent and received in Camden County over the next four years.
"Eugene left a closed book on his young life and that of his shipmates and officers. He loved the Navy and all for which it stood, his home, and his country."
"May all who read this know we, his mother and father, write in loving memory of a dutiful son."
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