Capt. Eric McGowen: legal advocate for Airmen and Guardians

  • Published
  • By Sean Schroeder
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

If you are an Airman or Guardian stationed at Goodfellow AFB, Laughlin AFB or Corry Station facing legal problems, Capt. Eric McGowen is the Air Force lawyer who can help.

He is the Area Defense Counsel, legal advocate for issues related to administrative actions and criminal charges that fall under the umbrella of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  

He’s been Goodfellow’s ADC since July 2023.  He transferred from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, where he worked at the base legal office for three and a half years. He was the chief of discharges, civil law and litigation.  

McGowen spent a significant amount of his time prosecuting cases, which contributed to Airmen receiving demotions, discharges, and/or imprisonment from the military justice system.  

Now he’s working on the other side of the law, tirelessly advocating on behalf of Airmen and Guardians to help them maintain their rank, prevent a discharge and/or avoid prison time.                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Through a very competitive selection process, McGowen took the necessary steps to be eligible and qualified for the ADC position.  “I made it very clear on my dream sheet that I preferred job over location; I wanted to be an Area Defense Counsel.  I’m glad they gave it to me,” said McGowen.  

Since he works at a training base, he provides legal counsel to a significant number of young intel trainees, who could potentially see a downgrade of their security clearance because of an administrative action.  

Drawing on his knowledge of the law and additional information related to the incident in question, he assists his clients in providing a coherent and professional response to a commander or legal office. 

His efforts can lead to a downgrade of an administrative action, such as letter of reprimand to a letter of counseling or an Article 15 downgraded to a letter of reprimand.  “It is helpful when you see that result in the end and you are able to help people out,” said McGowen.

“My main job is to ensure that Airmen and Guardians receive fair treatment under the law.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re in direct conflict with commanders and the base legal office,” said McGowen.  

“Sometimes we are, because we see things a little differently, but ultimately everyone should be on the side of ensuring Airmen and Guardians’ rights are being adhered to and all the applicable instructions are being followed.” 

On a personal note, McGowen is married, and his wife’s name is Jessica.  He hails from Williamsport, Indiana, a small town of a few thousand people.  He attended law school at Chicago-Kent College of Law.  He adopted a dog when he came to San Angelo, has a cat, and is a big fan of the New York Yankees. 

McGowen expects to be at Goodfellow for the next few years.  He and Staff. Sgt. Michael Ruhe, defense paralegal, work together to provide exceptional legal advocacy to the Air and Space Force community.   

They hope Airmen and Guardians located at Goodfellow, Laughlin, and Corry Station don’t hesitate to reach out and provide them an opportunity to advise and advocate on their behalf related to administrative action or military justice processes.