McGowan, Robert, COL

Deceased
 
 Photo In Uniform   Service Details
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Last Rank
Colonel
Last Service Branch
Cavalry
Last Primary MOS
1204-Armored Reconnaissance Unit Commander
Last MOS Group
Armor (Officer)
Primary Unit
1971-1972, Military Assistance Command Vietnam MACV
Service Years
1951 - 1982
Official/Unofficial US Army Certificates
Cold War Certificate
Order of the Spur

Cavalry

Colonel



Eight Overseas Service Bars


 Last Photo   Personal Details 

37 kb

Home Country
United States
United States
Year of Birth
1929
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by MAJ John Moore (SaberAlpha 10) to remember McGowan, Robert (Saber 6), COL.

If you knew or served with this Soldier and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
 
Contact Info
Home Town
Trenton, New Jersey
Last Address
Jackson Mississippi

Date of Passing
Feb 01, 2001
 
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

US Army Retired (Pre-2007) Presidential Service Badge 25th Infantry Division


 Unofficial Badges 

Army Honorable Discharge (1984-Present) Armor Shoulder Cord Cold War Medal Order of The Spur




 Military Association Memberships
25th Infantry Division Association3/4 Cav Association
  1988, 25th Infantry Division Association [Verified]1
  1988, 3/4 Cav Association [Verified]7

 Photo Album   (More...


 Ribbon Bar

Combat Infantryman 1st Award


 
 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1948, USMA (West Point, NY), A4
 Unit Assignments
ARNG, New JerseyMilitary Assistance Advisory Group VietnamSchool Assignments - StaffDepartment of Defense (DOD)
1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division25th Infantry Division (Tropic Lightning Division)3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry RegimentNational War College
Army War College (Staff)Military Assistance Command Vietnam MACV
  1947-1948, ARNG, New Jersey
  1963-1964, Military Assistance Advisory Group Vietnam
  1964-1965, 0006, Command and General Staff College (Staff)
  1967-1968, 2030, The White House
  1968-1968, 1203, 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division
  1968-1969, 25th Infantry Division (Tropic Lightning Division)
  1968-1969, 1204, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment
  1970-1970, 2715, National War College
  1971-1971, 0006, Army War College (Staff)
  1971-1972, Military Assistance Command Vietnam MACV
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1950-1953 Korean War
  1962-1965 Advisory Campaign (1962-65)
  1962-1973 Vietnam War
  1968-1968 Counteroffensive Phase IV Campaign (1968)/Operation TOAN THANG II 1 Jun to 30 Jun 68
  1968-1969 Counteroffensive Phase VI Campaign (1968-69)
  1969-1969 Tet 69 Counteroffensive Campaign
  1969-1969 Summer-Fall 1969 Campaign
  1971-1971 Consolidation I Campaign (1971)
  1971-1972 Consolidation II Campaign (1971-72)
 Colleges Attended 
United States Military AcademyColumbia UniversityNational War CollegeArmy War College
  1948-1952, United States Military Academy4
  1960-1962, Columbia University
  1970-1970, National War College
  1971-1971, Army War College
 Other News, Events and Photographs
 
  Mar 27, 2001, Resolution by the Mississippi Legislature
  Mar 31, 2001, March 2001 3/4 Cavalry Association Newsletter1
  Apr 06, 2013, General Photos
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity


2001
Director of "The Grace House", a home for AIDS Positive individuals, in Jackson Mississippi.

Outstanding Alums Award from the Army War College Foundation.
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Comments from Deirdre McGowan, his widow, on the Arlington National Cemetery Website.

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Silver Star
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Lieutenant Colonel (Armor) Robert Silber McGowan (ASN: 0-66360), United States Army, for heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force. Lieutenant Colonel McGowan distinguished himself as Squadron Commander of the 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry, 25th Infantry Division, in the Republic of Vietnam. While established in a night lager position near the village of Binh Hoa, elements of the 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry came under a massive enemy attack. During the initial contact, the medics' armored personnel carrier was hit by a rocket propelled grenade and immediately burst into flames. With complete disregard for his own safety, Lieutenant Colonel McGowan exposed himself to the withering hostile fire as he moved through the bullet swept perimeter to the burning vehicle. Braving the ominous flames, Lieutenant Colonel McGowan entered the burning track, pulled two wounded medics from the vehicle and extinguished the blaze. During the course of the battle, two more armored personnel carriers were struck by RPG rounds, wounding three crew members and forcing the remainder of the crews to seek refuge. Realizing the danger the weakened positions presented to the integrity of the laager, Lieutenant Colonel McGowan dauntlessly exposed himself to the heavy volume of fire as he mounted an abandoned track and began to place effective fire on the insurgents located 25 meters from his location. His valorous actions contributed immeasurably to the success of the mission and the defeat of the hostile force. Lieutenant Colonel McGowan's personal bravery, aggressiveness, and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, the 25th Infantry Division and the United States Army.

General Orders: Headquarters, 25th Infantry Division, General Orders No. 2294 (February 27, 1969)

Silver Star

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Silver Star to Lieutenant Colonel (Armor) Robert Silber McGowan (ASN: 0-66360), United States Army, for gallantry in action. Lieutenant Colonel McGowan distinguished himself by heroic actions on 15 February 1969, while serving as Squadron Commander of the 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry, 25th Infantry Division, in the Republic of Vietnam. While on a sweep operation, C Troop came under an intense attack from a large enemy force. Learning of the contact, Lieutenant Colonel McGowan immediately ordered his aircraft to the battle area. Because of the many casualties on the ground, Lieutenant Colonel McGowan requested his aircraft to land and act as a dust off. Reaching the ground, and amid intense enemy fire, Lieutenant Colonel McGowan personally assisted in loading the wounded aboard the ship. Remaining on the ground, Lieutenant Colonel McGowan continued to aid in the evacuation of the numerous wounded. When the unit had pulled back, it set up a defensive position. Lieutenant Colonel McGowan continued to aid in the evacuation of the numerous wounded. When the unit had pulled back, it set up a defensive position. Lieutenant Colonel McGowan continually exposed himself as he ran through the bullet swept area from position to position pointing out targets of opportunity and directing his men's fire, as well as firing on the aggressors with his weapon. His valorous actions contributed immeasurably to the defeat of the enemy force and the success of the mission. Lieutenant Colonel McGowan's personal bravery, aggressiveness, and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, the 25th Infantry Division and the United States Army.

General Orders: Headquarters, 25th Infantry Division, General Orders No. 2937 (March 8, 1969)

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Comments from Sgt David Olsen (A Trp 3/4 Cavalry, who served with Col. McGowan)
     I only spoke to LTC McGowan one time.  He had landed his helicopter and a few of us new guys were standing around an enemy bunker hole and he asked us if anybody had checked out that hole.  We said no and he pulled out his side arm and went down in it.  We all looked at each other stunned.  As he came out he said something to the effect that well there is nobody in there it is clear and then he walked away to go talk with the troop commander or platoon leader.  It was very reassuring to see him do that as we were all afraid to go in and that is why we were standing around the entrance.  Looking back now I am sure he knew that it would be empty but it was one of those things that you never forget: seeing a Colonel do something like that.  It gave us more confidence and was a good lesson on how you lead by example.

Comments from PFC Steve Turner (A Trp 3/4 Cavalry who served with Col. McGowan)
     I remember when Col Mac's chopper was shot down in the middle of our perimeter on Nov. 30, 1968 in the HoBo Woods and after jumping in the clear, he talked like it was a fender bender in a mall parking lot.
     He truly was a man's man, and an awesome trooper.

Comments from LTC Mel Moss (A Trp 3/4 Cavalry who served with Col. McGowan)
     My memories of Col Mac are overwhelming and too numerous for this site. But some significant ones begin with Nov 30, 68, when the Colonel’s Huey burst into a fireball just feet above the logger and there was a pause in time till John Moore announced, “They’re all out, they’re OK.” On Nov 1, 68, I heard a stern voice behind me telling me to get my officers’ blouses on and to never let him see that again. Later the same day, his question, “Did you give that Sergeant an Article 15 yet?”  To Jan 17, 69, when he finally said, “Just be quiet and get your gear, I am coming in for you now…no more talk as you are out of the jungle!”
     A special memory came to mind the day Jerry Headley, Mike Jackson, many others and I gathered at Arlington Cemetery to bid farewell to our dearly departed comrade. After Jerry introduced Col McGowan’s son to all of us, his son related that while spending a summer with his Dad, he came across a foot locker containing his Dad’s many VN citations and was amazed at the actions of his father. I told his son the citations were absolutely indicative of how incredible his father had been. However, what the citations did not address was during the worst of times the impact of the Colonel's voice over the radio saying " Roger that my friend, or OK my friend this is what I want you to do".
     That cold, dreary day we buried Colonel Robert S McGowan (USA Retired) was a very sad day for all of us who had the privilege to serve with him.

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Other Comments:

Distinguished Service Cross,
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Lieutenant Colonel (Armor) Robert Silber McGowan, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry, 25th Infantry Division. Lieutenant Colonel McGowan distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 2 March 1969 while serving as commander of a squadron conducting a reconnaissance-in-force mission in the southern portion of the Bo Loi Woods. When his squadron came under intense enemy assault and one of the troop commanders was wounded, Lieutenant Colonel McGowan directed his pilot to land amid hostile fire. He then organized the unit and, when several of the armored personnel carriers sustained direct hits from rocket grenades, carried a stretcher through the bullet-swept area to aid the wounded. To recover the body of a soldier, he raced through the enemy fusillade, passing within ten meters of an active enemy position. After assisting in the casualty evacuation, he guided several vehicles into strategic fighting positions. Returning to his helicopter, he went aloft to lead the ground assault. At one point, while armed only with a .45 caliber pistol, he charged a bunker and killed the occupant. He continued in his heroic manner until the communists were defeated. Lieutenant Colonel McGowan's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

General Orders: Headquarters, U.S. Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 2282 (June 27, 1969)

Silver Star

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting a Second Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Third Award of the Silver Star to Lieutenant Colonel (Armor) Robert Silber McGowan (ASN: 0-66360), United States Army, for gallantry in action. Lieutenant Colonel McGowan distinguished himself by heroic actions on 24 June 1969, while serving as Squadron Commander of the 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry, 25th Infantry Division, in the Republic of Vietnam. When elements of the 4th Cavalry came in contact with a large enemy force, Lieutenant Colonel McGowan ordered his pilot to fly into the area of contact. After landing in the area, Lieutenant Colonel McGowan, with complete disregard for his own safety, exposed himself to a heavy volume of hostile fire as he led an assault on an enemy bunker. As he neared the hostile position, Lieutenant Colonel McGowan spotted an enemy soldier and killed him with a hail of fire. Observing a wounded soldier pinned down in the kill zone, Lieutenant Colonel McGowan again exposed himself to the enemy fire as he evacuated the wounded soldier to safety. His valorous actions were responsible for saving several lives and contributed immeasurably to the success of the mission and the defeat of the hostile force. Lieutenant Colonel McGowan's bravery, aggressiveness, and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, the 25th Infantry Division and the United States Army.

General Orders: Headquarters, 25th Infantry Division, General Orders No. 9436 (July 18, 1969)

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Letter to parents of SFC Raymond Alvin Adam, KIA 21 Apr 1964 (a soldier in Major McGowan's unit in Vietnam)
       Major Robert S. McGowan wrote: Your son died as he lived, superbly performing his duties as training advisor of our Cai Son Self Defense Corps Training Center. He was on his way from the training center to Can Tho when a mine was electrically exploded under his jeep. Sergeant Adam died instantly—he felt no pain. I was at the scene a short time later and supervised his final departure from Cai Son. An impromptu honor guard of the local SDC soldiers who knew your son, were trained by him, and loved him as we, his comrades, in arms do, lent heartfelt military dignity to Sergeant Adam’s farewell from his place of duty. Some of them were without shoes, others had only partial uniforms, but they were rigid in their salute, and their eyes were moist—they had lost a friend. Vinh Long, and the Republic of Vietnam, are better today because of your son’s being here.

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Comments from Major Jerry Headley (B Trp 3/4 Cavalry, who served with Col. McGowan)
     COL Mac was more than a commander to many of us.  I recall one night, Dec 22, 1968.   We (B Troop) were lagered at Trang Bang and got word that an Infantry unit (the Wolfhounds, I think) was in trouble in back of An Duc. He ordered 2 platoons (1st & 3rd) to their aid. One hell of a fight. Lasted into the a.m. I brought one of the KIAs back on my track. When we got back to the FSB, COL Mac called me over to his tent. Pulled out a flask and told me to take a drink. I gladly did. He never offered me another drink though.
     I think of him often and miss him.

Comments from Col Mike Jackson (B & C Trps 3/4 Cavalry who served with Col. McGowan)
     Col Mac sent me the photo where I was briefing MG Williamson shortly after it was taken along with a hand written note.  The note was titled "young man on the spot". (haven't found the note yet but I kept it and will find it).   I apparently was briefing the CG on a large cache of rice, etc that we had found buried the day before.  We  learned that the NVA had use locals and their ox carts to haul the stuff up from the river to the "country store" area and buried it.  Jackson's response was to gather up the carts (several) line them up in column and had a Sheridan run over them.   Apparently the CG was listening intently to my description of that effort.   Wasn't exactly a good example of wining the hearts and minds of the locals.
     Col Mac was my hero, mentor and good friend.  I miss him and will not forget the kind of man and friend that he was to all of us who had the privilege of serving under his command,

 

   
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