After his 1964 high school graduation in Sepulveda, CA, Lowell Van Wagenen’s interests were in SCUBA diving off Palos Verdes, California, and fall hunting season in Utah. When the Army called, Van chose the Marines. Once a Marine, he realized he should have stayed in school; thus, NAPS and USNA became part of his future. Plebe and Youngster years found Van on the mighty Severn excelling for the crew team, however a pulled muscle turned his attention away from the water and oar.

Van followed an unconventional path at the Academy, with his greatest interests beyond its walls. After graduation, with wife Madeline and son Lowell II in tow, Van attended The Basic School at Quantico. In March, 1971, he began flight training in Pensacola and received his wings a year later. In March, 1972, Van and family arrived in Orange County, California, where he reported to MAG 16, HMM 161, MCAS (H) Santa Ana to fly CH-46 helicopters. In June, 1973, Van was assigned to an unaccompanied tour on Okinawa for one year. Near midnight on August 1st, he phoned home. An hour later, he was called on to co-pilot a nighttime medevac of a fallen Marine in the mountains of the Northern Training Area in Okinawa; the medevac helo crashed and all aboard died. A young man’s dreams extinguished, another routine fatality to preserve the nation’s security.

Looking back, forty years later, at the antics of the Class of 1970 still brings laughter and pure joy at the memories of youthful audacity. Lowell Van Wagenen, forever young in our memories, would still have a big smile across his face, and take this opportunity to say a heartfelt “thank you” to his wonderful friends, the steadfast classmates who conspired with him and supported him during those years by the Bay in order to make it through to graduation. Cheers! (Madeline Van Wagenen)

Updated: October 27, 2018
Curator: Ed Moore