This weekend is the anniversary of the death of an Outstanding Paratrooper, Major John Rowland.
So I thought I might take a moment to remember him, and tell you a bit about him and who he was.
John was born in 1947, the oldest of five children. He spent his life in a Military Family, constantly moving around, with no real home town to speak of.
He took charge of the family at a young age, having to take care of his siblings because his parents had to work multiple jobs to support the family on a meager Air Force Sergeant's salary.
He ran away from home at 16, and joined the Army at the age of 18 in 1964.
John was Infantry, and did his first tour in Vietnam with the 25th Infantry Division in 1966. He soon became involved with the Wolfhound's Long Range Patrol Units, and excelled in what he did.
After his first tour, he signed up for another tour, because he knew his experience was needed. He cared for his fellow troops, just like he cared for his little brothers when he was growing up.
After his second tour, he was recommended for a Combat Commission to 2LT. He had never graduated from High School, but the officers that recommended him saw a leader in him, and leaders were badly needed in Vietnam.
He received notice of his commission while serving his third tour in Vietnam. He returned to the states, and then served with the 82nd Airborne. He was a leg, but decided he needed to go to Jump School to keep one younger brother from "one'upping" him.
John was instrumental in getting the LRP,LRRP and LRS units of Vietnam recognized and eventually organized in 1970 to the first Vietnam units of the 75th Infantry. The 1st Battalion of the 75th Infantry!
John never went to Ranger School at Ft Benning.......he was an OJT Ranger, and he lived and learned the Ranger Creed.
John was not happy at Ft Bragg, and didn't like "garrison" duty. He soon contacted former commanders, and got orders back to Vietnam.
By June of 1970, 2LT Rowland was a Platoon Leader with the 1st Cavalry Division, in Cambodia. His company came under attack by a large enemy force. He was wounded, and refused to leave until his unit could be properly reinforced and resupplied.
I have had conversations with many of the enlisted members of his unit on that day. To a man, every one has said that John was the finest leader that they ever served with, and they all have said they wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for him.
The all agreed that John was an officer that cared about his men more than anything else. Much like he cared for his little brothers growing up.
John received the Distinguished Service Cross for that action in Cambodia.
When John returned to the states, he found out he could not be promoted to 1LT unless he attended the Officer Basic Course at Ft Benning.
I think he was one of the only people to ever show up at Benning for OBC with a DSC, 3 Bronze Stars (2 w/V device) and 3 Purple Hearts.
John eventually retired in 1987, and his life was never the same. He missed the Army, and he missed the troops he loved so much.
It was very hard for John to handle the way the Vietnam Vets were treated, and he slipped into a life of alcohol abuse. The alcohol eventually did to him what a million NVA couldn't.
So I will drink a toast to Major John Rowland today, as I celebrate this holiday with my children. He was a warrior.... and my Hero.
For those of you that don't know...John was my older Brother, and I loved him and I miss him.