I just received a telephone call from an old shipmate, Clay Heiser. He told me, our Chief from our USS Stein (DE 1065) days had passed away.
On December 20, 2012, Master Chief Gunner's Mate William Oakley Mowery, died in his home, alone.
I first met Bill Mowery at Gun School at Great Lakes, in 1970. We were students in the MK 42 Mod 9 &10 "C" School. I have written about what Bill did for me and how he and Carl Morris went to bat for me when the Navy Exam Center made a grading mistake on my GMG2 test! But the Master Chief meant much, much more to the United States Navy than my little promotion.
He was a mountain of a man, very outspoken, and someone who always took responsibility of what he did and what those who worked or him did. He was widely respected through out the Gunner's Mate community and was the author and force behind a new and revolutionary combat systems alignment procedure called STAV alignment. That process is still used today.
Bill always knew more about what was going on than anyone else. One day, back in our USS Stein days, Bill told the Captain that the Navy had plans to install emergency diesel propulsion units on either side of the Variable Depth Sonar room. The Captain had not heard of this and all but called Bill a liar. The next day, some NAVSEA engineers came aboard to do a sight survey for the installation! The Captain was shocked and embarrassed! That was the last time he ever questioned the Chief.
Master Chief Mowery was a leader. He NEVER had us do anything he would not do himself. When we commissioned the USS Stein, we were touring our new MK 42 Mod 9 gun mount and the Chief was telling us, if you break something, YOU fix it. Just then, he leaned back against a copper air line going to a gage. It broke at the coupling. I told the Chief; "I will fix that." He said; "NO, I broke it, I will fix it!" and he did. I also remember a number of ammunition casualty's in the gun loading system that were extremely dangerous and potentially deadly. Bill was always leading from the front. You never had to wonder where he was!
Master Chief Bill Mowery taught me how to be a leader, a technician, and a Chief. He was my mentor and my friend. I was planning on going up to see him, but I never did. Now, I am sorry. I should have been there for him. If you knew Bill Mowery count yourself fortunate. He was a great man and a fine example.