Second Lieutenant Thomas Weldon Fowler was born in Wichita Falls, Texas on October 31, 1921. After graduating from Wichita Falls High School, he entered Texas A&M in September 1939. Fowler majored in animal husbandry. As a senior, he served as a cadet captain and executive officer of the cavalry squadron. Fowler graduated in February, 1943.
Fowler was commissioned as a second lieutenant in May, 1943 after successfully completing OCS, Armor branch at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He married his college sweetheart, Ann Oakes on May 12, 1943 and their first son was born in February, 1944.
Fowler first began his service in North Africa in October 1943. In February 1944, he was sent to Italy and joined the 191st Tank Battalion. On May 23, 1944, Lieutenant Fowler found himself in a desperate situation involving both armored and infantry forces near Carano, Italy.
*FOWLER, THOMAS W.
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 1st Armored Division. Place and date: Near Carano, Italy, 23 May 1944. Entered service at: Wichita Falls, Tex. G.O. No.: 84, 28 October, 1944
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, on 23 May 1944, in the vicinity of Carano, Italy. In the midst of a full-scale armored-infantry attack, 2d Lt. Fowler, while on foot, came upon 2 completely disorganized infantry platoons held up in their advance by an enemy minefield. Although a tank officer, he immediately reorganized the infantry. He then made a personal reconnaissance through the minefield, clearing a path as he went, by lifting the antipersonnel mines out of the ground with his hands. After he had gone through the 75-yard belt of deadly explosives, he returned to the infantry and led them through the minefield, a squad at a time. As they deployed, 2d Lt. Fowler, despite small arms fire and the constant danger of antipersonnel mines, made a reconnaissance into enemy territory in search of a route to continue the advance. He then returned through the minefield and, on foot, he led the tanks through the mines into a position from which they could best support the infantry. Acting as scout 300 yards in front of the infantry, he led the 2 platoons forward until he had gained his objective, where he came upon several dug-in enemy infantrymen. Having taken them by surprise, 2d Lt. Fowler dragged them out of their foxholes and sent them to the rear; twice, when they resisted, he threw hand grenades into their dugouts. Realizing that a dangerous gap existed between his company and the unit to his right, 2d Lt. Fowler decided to continue his advance until the gap was filled. He reconnoitered to his front, brought the infantry into position where they dug in and, under heavy mortar and small arms fire, brought his tanks forward. A few minutes later, the enemy began an armored counterattack. Several Mark Vl tanks fired their cannons directly on 2d Lt. Fowler’s position. One of his tanks was set afire. With utter disregard for his own life, with shells bursting near him, he ran directly into the enemy tank fire to reach the burning vehicle. For a half-hour, under intense strafing from the advancing tanks, although all other elements had withdrawn, he remained in his forward position, attempting to save the lives of the wounded tank crew. Only when the enemy tanks had almost overrun him, did he withdraw a short distance where he personally rendered first aid to 9 wounded infantrymen in the midst of the relentless incoming fire. 2d Lt. Fowler’s courage, his ability to estimate the situation and to recognize his full responsibility as an officer in the Army of the United States, exemplify the high traditions of the military service for which he later gave his life.
Thomas Fowler was buried in the American military cemetery at Nettuano in 1944. In 1948, his remains were returned to the United States. Second Lt. Thomas Fowler was buried with military honors at Crestview Memorial Park in Wichita Falls on July 27, 1948.
Second Lieutenant Thomas Weldon Fowler’s bravery and service have been memorialized in several ways. In his hometown of Wichita Falls, an elementary school and the American Legion Post 169 are named for him. At Fort Knox, Kentucky, an Officer Candidate School barracks is named Fowler Hall. At Texas A&M University, a campus dormitory, Fowler Hall, is named to honor their fallen comrade. Fowler’s original Medal of Honor is in a display case, along with memorabilia from his days at Texas A&M and military service, in the Sam Houston Sanders Corps of Cadets Center on the campus of Texas A&M-College Station. Gig ’em, Second Lieutenant Thomas W. Fowler and rest in peace.