Michael Owens was born on February 6, 1837, in New York City. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on August 17, 1865, in New York City, and served aboard the steam screw frigate USS Colorado during the Korean Expedition in 1871. Then Private Owens was awarded the Medal of Honor on February 8, 1872, for his heroic actions aboard the Colorado during the Battle of Ganghwa in Korea on June 11, 1871. Sgt. Owens was medically retired from the Marine Corps on August 17, 1888, and died on December 8, 1890. He was buried at the Mt. Mariah Naval Plot in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
His Medal of Honor Citation reads:
On board the U.S.S. COLORADO during the capture of Korean forts, 11 June 1871. Fighting courageously in hand-to-hand combat, Owens was badly wounded by the enemy during this action.