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John Lowry


Date and Place of Birth: August 29, 1915 Arnold, PA
Date and Place of Death:    May 23, 1943 Silver Lake, CA
Baseball Experience: Semi-Pro
Position: Unknown
Rank: Sergeant
Military Unit: 523rd Bombardier Training Squadron USAAF
Area Served: United States

John A. Lowry, the son of Ancil and Verda Lowry, was born on August 29, 1915 in Arnold, Pennsylvania. He attended Arnold High School where he played varsity football for two years and varsity basketball for four years, and was a member of the 1934 Allegheny-Kiski Tournament champions.

After graduating from high school in 1934, Lowry worked in the Arnold shipping department of the Aluminum Company of America and played semi-pro baseball, basketball and football in Arnold, New Kensington and Allegheny County. He entered military service on February 23, 1942 and trained at Biloxi, Mississippi, before being assigned to Victorville Army Air Base in California, where he served as a mechanic with the 523rd Bombardier Training Squadron. On October 3, 1942, he married the former Janet Jones of Pasadena, California.

The Victorville Bombers baseball team got off to a good start in 1943, winning their first four games. On Sunday, May 23, 1943, the team was scheduled to play a game in Las Vegas. The flight ended in tragedy.

The official story released by the military claimed the Beechcraft AT-11 Kansan, in which Lowry was travelling, was struck by another AT-11 while on a bombardier training exercise. Lowry’s plane crashed at Silver Lake, California, about 90 miles from Victorville, while the other plane, which suffered minimal damage, managed to land safely back at the airfield. In truth, the two planes were heading to Las Vegas for a baseball game; on board the AT-11 with Lowry were Second Lieutenant Hal Dobson, a former minor league pitcher from Lincoln, Nebraska, and Sgt. William E. Thomas, a former semi-pro player also from the Pittsburgh area. The pilots of the two planes were playing games with each other and one plane cut the tail off Lowry’s plane. All on board the crippled AT-11 – Lowry, Dobson, Thomas and the pilot, 2/Lt. William S. Barnes, were killed.

John Lowry’s widow, Janet, accompanied the body as it was escorted East with a military escort from Victorville. He is buried at Cochran Cemetery in Templeton, Pennsylvania.

John A. Lowry

Sgt. John A. Lowry's grave at Cochran Cemetery in Templeton, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh Press - May 26, 1943
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - May 26, 1943

Date Added April 30, 2013 Updated May 5, 2014

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