Who is Deltha Bowles? (part 3)

For those of you following my recent posts about Clyde & Deltha Bowles… thanks!  You may be curious about their second son, Jay Earl, who survived their car crash when he was 5-months old, and then died tragically in an airplane crash at the age of 22-years old.

Army JayJay Earl Gowers was born 22 Jan 1921 in Nephi, Utah.  Five months later, on 22 Jun 1921, Jay was riding in the car that overturned and killed his parents.  After the parents’ deaths, Jay was raised by his paternal grandparents, Alfred & Matilda Gowers, in Nephi.  I found him listed with them in the 1930 and 1940 US Federal Censuses.  He went to Juab High School with his brother, Don, who was raised by the maternal grandparents.  He graduated a year after Don and, like his brother, Jay also went to BYU in 1940 & 1941… then enlisted in the ARMY on 14 Nov 1941.

Jay must have been stationed for a while in Tennessee because he shows up living there with a wife in 1943.  LDS church records indicate that Jay married Loi Beth Kerr on 17 Oct 1942 in Nashville, Tennessee… and they returned to Utah to be sealed in the Manti Temple on 20 May 1943.  They never had any children.  Jay was killed in a plane crash while training with the ARMY on 22 Sep 1943.  He is buried in Nephi next to his parents in the Vine Bluff Cemetery.  Gone but not forgotten.

As I researched Jay’s death, I found a website that could give me information about airplane crashes.  When I requested the information, they informed me that Jay had three previous crashes before the one that took his life.  By this time in my detective work, I was curious about everything and so I requested information about all of Jay’s crashes.  I provide it here for those who are curious like me!

1st Accident… This first crash occurred at Waycross Army Air Field, Georgia on 1 Sep 1942.  Jay had just landed the plane and was rolling to a stop when the left wheel collapsed.  It was ruled a mechanical error.

2nd Accident… While taxiing his plane to the runway to take off, Jay intended to test the wing flaps, but pulled the “wheel up” lever instead which immediately dropped the plane to the ground.  This occurred at DeRidder Army Air Base, Louisiana on 9 Mar 1943.  It was ruled pilot error.

3rd Accident… Jay had taken off from Salinas Army Air Base, California on 7 Sep 1943 when his engine caught fire.  He steered back towards the base, but his engine quit suddenly and he bailed out.  The plane crashed in a field; it was ruled mechanical error.  This incident was noted in his hometown newspaper.

4th Accident… Just two weeks later, Jay was taking off from Salinas when his plane veered to the right suddenly and dived into the ground.  He was thrown from the plane and killed on 22 Sep 1943.  It was ruled pilot error.  The hometown newspaper noted Jay’s death and funeral in subsequent weeks.

*Whatever happened to Loi Beth?  She married Robert Shaw a few years after Jay’s death.  She and her husband both died in Downey, California.

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  1. Trackback: Summer of Bereavement | The Life & Times of Lorrie J.

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