Since 1977, the town of Cowpens has honored veterans every Father’s Day weekend, and this year is no exception. The USS Cowpens was an aircraft carrier of the pacific fleet during World War II known as “The Mighty Moo”. The town of Cowpens began The Mighty Moo Cowpens Festival over 30 years ago allowing the town to create a special bond with these former sailors and their families. Seventeen former crewmen are scheduled to be in attendance this year. Committee member Jan Humphries says these sailors have become a part of the town.
“The relationships developed between these crewmen and their families and the people in town have become like…you know, these people are like our extended family,” said Humphries. “They come back for our children’s weddings. They come back if there’s a funeral. If some of them are in a vicinity close to us, they return to be with the family and we do the same thing for some of them.”
Only one sailor appeared at the first celebration in 1977. He drove from Charleston, says Humphries, and his name was OJ Simpson. At the peak of the attendance of former crew members, over 140 were able to attend. Circumstance has dwindled that number to the current 17, but there are still 12 families of former crew members that come every year.
Also in attendance will be the new commander of the USS Cowpens. The second ship named after the town. According to Humphries, “We have the great distinction of having two naval vessels named after our community.
“The World War II ship which was in service from 1943 to 1946 and it was an aircraft carrier. The USS Cowpens CVL-25. Then in 1989, the USS Cowpens CG-63 was commissioned and she’s a(n) aegis missile cruiser.”
Humphries says that the town is able to draw as many as 10,000 people to the parade on Saturday morning. She says there are events that follow the parade as well and they are not hard to find.
“We have the parade. Following the parade we’ll have a Veteran’s Recognition Service down at our Veteran’s Park which is located where the Depot is. Most of the activities centered around the festival are in the same location down at the Depot. (Again), we have a Veteran’s Recognition Service and then the crewmen wrap up their reunion at their hotel with a Saturday night banquet.”