A Crusty old Sergeant Major once said that he checked his integrity by always thinking, "If the Chief of Staff of the Army was looking over my shoulder now, would he be proud of what I'm doing?" That was CSM Francis E. Dowling - 2/28 Inf. in Vietnam in 1967.
CSM Dowling was born in North Dakota and he looked the part of a mountain man. He was easily six feet, six inches tall and weighed about 260 pounds, no fat. He was not mean as Sergeant majors go. He was so big people thought he was mean. About ninety-seven percent of the time he had a big smile on his face. He enjoyed being with soldiers. Before coming to the Black Lions as Command Sergeant Major, CSM Dowling had been the CSM of the entire 5th Mechanized Division of Fort Carson, Colorado.
Can you imagine going from Division Command Sergeant Major with over 18,000 men to being a Battalion Sergeant Major with 700 men? Some people would see that as a "come down", but not CSM Francis Dowling. He reveled in the fact that he was Battalion Command Sergeant Major, where the rubber meets the road. He was already aware and familiar with the higher levels of command, where temptations were even greater to cut corners, to accept gifts from suppliers and vendors, as if the high level guy was entitled to "payola" - the slang expression for bribes.
It was easy for a Division Command Sergeant Major to be wined and dined by people who wanted some angle or favor. That same temptation that has always plagued high ranking officers! CSM Francis E. Dowling would have none of that! He always did the RIGHT THING.
On the 17th of October 1967, CSM Dowling was in the jungle at the side of his Battalion Commander, LTC Terry Allen. When the enemy fire was at it's height, CSM Dowling used his huge body to shield his battalion commander, literally throwing himself across LTC Allen's wounded body.
The relief column found CSM Dowling with his arms around LTC Allen, protecting his commander to the last. This giant of a man who was raised in the hills of North Dakota, understood his DUTY! He was a humble man - large in stature, large in heart. No one would ever see CSM Francis Dowling trying to use his size or position for personal gain. He was a man of INTEGRITY. He always did the right thing. On October 17, 1967, Francis Dowling was killed in action protecting his battalion commander.
|You can read about CSM Dowling, LTC Terry Allen and the men they commanded on Oct 17, 1967, in the book "They Marched into Sunlight" by David Maraniss. It tells the story of the "Black Lions of the Big Red One and the events in the ambush that was the last battle of so many good soldiers.
|Posted by: Michael Myers
|Francis Dowling was the Command Sergeant Major(CSM) of the 2d Bn, 28th Infantry Black Lions, Ist Infantry Division. He was a brave and loyal soldier, tall, handsome and professional. He died next to his Battalion Commander, Terry De La Mesa Allen. He was always at his commander's side. He was a good man with a strong sense of humor and a love of soldiering. I miss him. Jim Shelton BG, USA, (Ret)
|Posted by: Jim Shelton