By Joe Utter, September 4, 2013, Columbia Basin Herald
Clyde Owen and some of his closest friends gathered Friday to celebrate his 95 birthday, sharing stories and visiting with one another.
About 30 people, many of them current and former members of the Big Bend Community College Foundation Board, attended Owen’s party Friday in Moses Lake.
Owen, the last Larson Air Force Base commander, has been a member of the board for more than 10 years and was the first executive manager at the Port of Moses Lake.
In 2011, Owen donated $100,000 to the college, but his work to help acquire the campus when the base closed in 1966 helped build his reputation today.
BBCC Foundation Executive Director Doug Sly recalled his time as a reporter with the Columbia Basin Herald, calling Owen the best public administrator he ever covered.
“After all these years, he still has it,” Sly said.
Sly also said during each Veteran’s Day, Owen is the first person he thinks about.
Owen started in the Kansas National Guard in 1940 before joining the Air Force where he served 26 years, flying 24 different aircraft, including the B-52. During his World War II service, the B-26 he was flying over Germany was shot down. While Owen ordered everyone out of the aircraft, he continued to fly and was the last off the plane, barely escaping capture, he said.
Many at Owen’s celebration called him a hero.
BBCC President Terry Leas said although he does not know Owen well, he is well of aware of his reputation in the community, which was a common theme during Owen’s celebration.