John Michael Bowers

Lance Corporal
United States Marine Corps
18 September 1944 - 21 March 1966
Silver Spring, Maryland
Panel 06E Line 028


John Michael Bowers

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for John Michael Bowers

10 Nov 2001

"Johnny, we hardly knew you."

From his sister,
Ellen Bowers
30 May 2006

I served with John in Chu Lai Vietnam (1965/1966). I was in H&S Company, 2/4 (Admin Pool) ... stood many bunker watches with him and we became close friends. We said goodbye only several hours before ... I remember jokingly telling him to watch his ass ... I had to ID him when he came in off the chopper. One of my admin jobs was to ID casualties on big ops for 2/4 ... I will always remember that day (21 March 1966). He was a great guy and missed having a full life. I still feel guilty I left him behind.

Cpl. John J. Testa

21 Jun 2006

Additional Note:

As part of my 2/4 H&S (Admin Pool) assignments I had to prepare this letter to John's parents (signed by Lt. Trautwein) ... I recently asked Ellen (John's sister) if she would mind sending me a copy which she retrieved from her father. I'm sure they won't mind me sharing that letter with you. It provides information about where and when John was killed and the type of Marine he was.

2d Battalion, 4th Marines (-) (Rein)
3rd Marine Division, FMF
c/o FPO, San Francisco 96602

24 March 1966

Mr. and Mrs. Hollis Bowers
200 St. Lawrence Drive
Silver Springs, Maryland

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bowers:

The untimely death of your son, Lance Corporal John M. Bowers, U.S. Marine Corps at twelve-thirty o'clock in the afternoon on 21 March 1966, near Quang Ngai, Republic of Vietnam, is a source of sorrow to myself and his friends in this Company. It was a privilege to have had John serve with us. Please accept our deepest sympathy in your bereavement.

John was attached to Company E which was participating in Operation Texas. When the Company was taken under fire, several Marines were wounded by small arms. In complete disregard for his own safety your son rushed to assist other Marines in the evacuation of the wounded. He heroically braved intense enemy small arms fire and was struck by an enemy bullet. He was killed instantly. John was an outstanding Marine. I and my fellow Marines are deeply saddened by the loss of a man who was a great credit to his country and Service.

It may comfort you to know that John received the last rites of the Church and a Memorial Mass will be held in his honor.

John's fine disposition, uprightness and devotion to duty won for him the respect of all who knew him. Although I know that words can do little to console you, I hope the knowledge that your son is keenly missed and that we share your sorrow will in some measure alleviate the suffering caused by your great loss.

If you feel that I can be of any help to you, please do not hesitate to write.

Sincerely yours,


First Lieutenant, U. S. Marine Corps Reserve

From a friend and brother Marine,
John J. Testa
H&s Company 2/4
Chu Lai Vietnam
13 Evergreen Road, Acton, Ma 10720

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Operation TEXAS was conducted by the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines between 21 and 24 March 1966 and consisted of a search-and-destroy mission in the vicinity of a hamlet called Phoung Dinh (2) in Quang Ngai Province. Three Marine rifle companies were involved - Echo and Fox from 2/4 Marines and Delta 1/4 Marines.

The operation began on 21 March with Fox 2/4 being airlifted into a landing zone at BS495825, about 500 meters west of Phuong Dinh (2). The first wave landed at 0845 and was greeted with heavy small arms and machine gun fire from the north, east, and south. The Fox Marines secured the LZ while air strikes were called in against the hamlet. The 2/4 Command Group and Echo 2/4 were next in at 0915, followed by Delta 1/4 at 1100. During this time supporting fires - fixed wing, helos, and artillery - were directed against the areas east of the LZ.

At 1230 Delta 1/4 and Echo 2/4 began a movement toward the village, with Fox 2/4 held in reserve. Echo 2/4 was able to fight its way to the edge of the village but was unable to break through the defensive perimeter. Delta 1/4 worked its way to high ground north of Phuong Dinh and established a base of fire in support of Echo 2/4.

By 1300 Echo had broken through a small part of the enemy's outer perimeter, only to find that the village fortifications consisted of three distinct defensive perimeters, one within the other. Echo was directed to withdraw from the village proper and to take up a position about 200 meters west. By 1800 the Marines had established positions north (Delta 1/4), west (Echo 2/4) and southwest (Fox 2/4) of Phuong Dinh. Although the village was subjected to continuous air and artillery fire, the enemy's return fire remained heavy. The Marines decided to wait til morning to assault the village again, and artillery fire continued through the night.

At 0800 22 March Fox 2/4 entered Phuong Dinh without contact - the enemy had withdrawn. The village's defenses were found to consist of mutually supporting bunkers, tunnel complexes, and several large caves. 146 bodies were found, along with large quantities of munitions and other supplies. Only sporadic contacts were made through the day, and on the 24th two companies from the 1st Engineer Battalion were brought in to demolish the fortifications. The Marines withdrew from the area on the evening of the 24th.

Sixteen Marines were killed at Phuong Dinh, and 74 more wounded. Thirteen of the dead can be identified as

  • D Co, 1st Bn, 4th Marines
    • HM2 Martin L. Gillespie, East Boston, MA (Navy Cross)
    • Pfc Roger L. Henderson, Portland, OR
    • Pfc Jerry D. Lee, Grand Prairie, TX
    • Pfc Terry L. Quinn, Huntington Beach, CA

  • H&S Co, 1st Bn, 4th Marines
  • E Co, 2nd Bn, 4th Marines
    • GySgt Billy Howard, Hialeah, FL (Navy Cross)
    • SSgt Lester G. Michels, New Milford, NJ
    • Sgt Raymond W. Wilson, Jacksonville, FL
    • LCpl John M. Bowers, Silver Spring, MD
    • LCpl Isiah Foster, Tampa, FL (WIA 03/21/1966, DoW 03/23/1966)
    • Pfc Manuel Herrera, Pueblo, CO (Silver Star)
    • Pfc Fred Y. Wright, Muncie, IN

  • F Co, 2nd Bn, 4th Marines
    • Cpl Daniel Tienda, Austin, TX
According to the After Action Report, Golf 2/4 was not involved at Phuong Dinh and the 2/4 Command Chronology does not record any deaths in Golf Company. Never the less, the casualty database and the Presidential Letters of Condolences files at the LBJ Library indicate that three Golf 2/4 Marines were killed on 22 March:

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his sister,
Ellen Bowers

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 10 Nov 2001
Last updated 07/01/2006