Donald William Ronald McGowan DFC CD was born at Kelfield, (located about 60 miles west of Saskatoon) Saskatchewan. On July 2, 1941, he enlisted in the RCAF in Saskatoon.
He received air crew instruction at various training schools in Canada and graduated, as a pilot, October 9, 1942, from No. 4 Service Flying Training School at Prince Rupert, British Columbia. After arriving overseas and receiving additional training at an Operational Training Unit, he was posted to No. 578 Squadron, Bomber Command.
For Bomber Command air crew, there was a low probability of surviving and returning safely, from all of their tour of 30 missions over enemy held Europe. Over 60 per cent of air crew who began a tour of 30 missions would be lost before completing their tour.
Regardless of the terrible odds, bomber crews buckled on their parachutes and began each mission with determination. They fell prey to the hazards of fog, icing and lightning, and they perished amongst the bursting shells of anti-aircraft guns.
However, the greatest number died in the desperately unequal combat and the overwhelming firepower of tenacious German night fighter defenders. Over 9,900 Canadians in Bomber Command air crew, sacrificed their lives fighting for freedom and democracy.
Some crashed into the sea or crashed in England. Some airmen survived the crashes, others were rescued at sea.
A great many of those who died never had a chance to bail out. They perished when their aircraft loaded with tons of explosives and high octane gas, either exploded in the air or on impact with the ground. Others were killed when they plumetted 6 to 8 kilometres to the ground after their parachutes caught fire from their burning aircraft.
However, by August 29, 1944, McGowan had survived a large number of dangerous and risky missions against heavily defended targets and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his skill and valour.
Postwar he remained in the RCAF and retired with the rank of squadron leader. In 1957 he married Barbara Phyllis, a Winnipeg girl, who was a dietician overseas. They had two children; Elizabeth and Ray.
After retiring from the RCAF in 1970, McGowan and his family settled in the village of Manotick, south of Ottawa. He entered the real estate field with Neta Clarke, later going on to open his own business on Ann Street in 1974.
Eventually he moved his office to Mill Street and in 1979 built the McGowan Building, the first office building in Manotick. He was active in community affairs and was not only a member of the Kiwanis Club, but went on to become President and Lieutenant Governor of Kiwanis Division 12. He was also a member of the South Carleton Legion Branch 314 in Manotick.
On January 9, 1980, McGowan passed away after a battle with cancer. He was survived by his wife Barbara and daughter Elizabeth and son Ray.