Tuesday, April 21, 2015

COL James N. "Nick" Rowe, true American Hero

Today is the 26th anniversary of Nick Rowe's death by assassination by the New People's Army insurgent/terrorist organization in the Philippines. Unless you have been in hiding for the last 40 years, you should have an appreciation of what Nick Rowe did for Special Forces.

Rowe was a West Point graduate of 1960 and was subsequently commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. In 1963, then First Lieutenant Rowe was deployed to Vietnam as Executive Officer of Detachment A-23, 5th Special Forces Group. The mission of A-23 was to organized a Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) for a basecamp in the Mekong Delta.

On October 29, 1963, Rowe was captured by Viet Cong elements along with Captain Rocky Versace and Sergeant Daniel Pitzer. Rowe spent 62 months in captivity in the U Minh Forest, most of this time in a cage. Over powering a guard, Rowe escaped captivity on December 31, 1968, and during evasion, managed to signal a Huey helicopter for recovery. Rowe subsequently wrote his account of captivity in the book Five Years to Freedom. Nick Rowe retired from active duty in 1974.

In 1981, He was recalled to active duty as a lieutenant colonel to develop a Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) course based upon his experience as a POW. The SERE course is now part of the required training for all Special Forces candidates in the multi-phased Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC). This course is universally considered the best SERE course in the U.S. Military.

In 1987, Colonel Rowe was assigned to the U.S. Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG) in the Philippines providing training and advisory capabilities to the Filipino Army fighting the New People's Army (NPA), the communist insurgency.

In February 1989, Colonel Rowe warned that the NPA was planning on assassinating several prominent figures, himself included. On April 21, 1989 Colonel Rowe was assassinated in an ambush on his vehicle while traveling to JUSMAG headquarters.

Not only just the developer and driving force between the US Army Special Forces SERE school, there are facilities in the Philippines, Fort Huachuca and Fort Campbell named after COL James. N. "Nick" Rowe.

 Camp MacKall, the Special Forces Training base at Fort Bragg was re-named the Rowe Training Facility. The infamous obstacle course that every Special Forces Candidates grew to hate is called the "Nasty Nick" and fittingly is called the hardest obstacle course in the military. And last, but not least, a High School and major Boulevard in Nick Rowe's hometown of McAllen are named after him. Special Forces and indeed this Country, owe a huge debt to this man.

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