Smart and Lucky: How Wayne Owen Survived WWII

Many survivors of war talk about how lucky they were to survive. Here is one such story. During his training during WWII, Wayne Owen’s fellow soldiers gave him the nickname “Lucky”. While he often “slept through the numerous classes, he still made better grades than the other men”. While serving in New Guinea, the tent next to Wayne was destroyed by shrapnel from an overhead dogfight between U.S. and Japanese fighters. He was lucky once more. While in Tacloban in the Philippines, a typhoon hit and the only things left standing were the mess hall and you guessed it, “Lucky’s tent”. Like many serving in the Pacific Theatre, he contracted malaria and spent a month in the hospital where he “had to endure 33 shots of penicillin. It took another 4 – 5 months to recover” before he could rejoin his unit, which had moved to another island during his convalescence. While onboard a ship in Manila Bay in April of 1945, a transport ship only four from Wayne’s, was struck by a Kamikaze attack. “Lucky” escaped harm once again.


Wayne Owen was born September 13, 1923 in Lamkin, Texas in Comanche County. He was one of eight children. His dad, Ben Owen, was a veteran of WWI. Wayne graduated from high school at age 16. After “working at a few jobs”, Wayne enlisted in the Army Reserve. Three of his brothers also joined up and served during WWII. Wayne spent a year at Texas Tech taking courses in math and calculus which would come in handy during his training in the service. H