Donald J. Gower, 86

Donald Gower

SACO — Donald James Gower, 86, a tall, thin, and soft-spoken man passed away peacefully at his home on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018.

He was preceded in death by his beautiful wife of over 60 years, Charlotte Hildegard Gower.

Donald was born into the height of the Great Depression on Nov. 20, 1931, in Black Point Scarborough, to his father Philip Gower and his mother Helen Bowley-Gower.

He was predeceased by his sister Margaret Doody-Cote, and his brothers Raymond and Richard Gower. Their father passed away when Donald was four years old. The Gower children would also lose their mother seven years later. They lived with their mother’s sister, Francis and her husband, Joe Morse and three sons, Ken, Bill and Gary until arrangements were made for the orphaned children.

Entering the military finally gave Don a discipline he understood and needed. Aside from his wounds received in Vietnam, Don’s life was punctuated by serious health problems that he continued to miraculously overcome. He survived years of ruptured ulcers, bladder cancer, lung cancer, two strokes, resuscitated from two fatal heart attacks, pneumonia over 20 times, sepsis, to mention just a few. A true warrior.

Don’s military service was extraordinary. Two years in the Maine National Guard, 20 years in the Army, 18 of those years were in tanks until he received orders for Vietnam. Jan. 1969, Sgt. First Class Donald James Gower assumed the leadership of a helicopter platoon. The platoon under his command consisted of 10 OH6A scout helicopters and a contingent of 30 men, 10 pilots, 10 forward observers, and 10 crew chiefs. Their mission was to ferret enemy gunfire and to provide cover for the South Vietnamese ARVN troops. Often unorthodox and outrageous tactics. He would himself be shot down three times in the small bubble-shaped helicopters called LOACHs.

In a 10-month hailstorm of bullets and mortar rounds, Sgt. Gower earned two air medals, two Purple Hearts, two Army commendation medals, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and numerous citations for meritorious service, bravery and heroism. What also made his tour exceptional was that he had two sons, who had already received Purple Hearts. His oldest son, Gunter, had his leg showered with shrapnel when a hand grenade exploded while serving in the Marines. His son, Albert, stepped on a land mine which exploded and filled his lungs with shrapnel while serving in the Army.

When he retired from the military in 1971, jobs were few and far between for Vietnam veterans. He did find work with Maietta Construction and became a heavy machine operator for over 20 years. He took extreme pride in his work. Even after working long hard days he kept busy with fixing up his homes and his many hobbies, painting, hooked rugs, and difficult 3-D puzzles, some with working clocks, and his beautiful gardens. He was an avid reader and loved old country as much as he loved his cats.

He leaves behind Gunter Gower of Cape Elizabeth, Albert Gower of Buxton, Helen Herron of Florida, Donna Gower-Kantor of Sebago, Ronna Gower of Florida; his grandchildren and great-grandchildren; many nieces and nephews.

A service will be held at Dennett Craig and Pate Funeral Home, 365 Main Street, Saco on Friday, Oct. 5, at 10 a.m., followed by a full honor military burial at Black Point Cemetery in Scarborough. A reception will be at Donald’s home.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to: Compassus, 23 Spring St., Suite C, Scarborough, ME 04074.

 

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