Charles Stoddard Rowley

United States Air Force
14 May 1931 - 03 November 1978
Riverton, Connecticut
Panel 11W Line 038

7TH AF AC-130 16TH SOS
USAF Navigator/Bombardier

Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign
Charles S. Rowley

The database page for Charles Stoddard Rowley

01 Jul 2004

From out of the New England hill country came the pride of Gilbert High's class of '49. Far from the tropical climate of Crabtown, Chuck became a proficient ski jumper. His mother's hair stopped turning gray when he had to give up the sport and pack his bags for prep school in Washington, D. C. Although D. C. was quite different from the hills of home, Chuck got used to big city ways and also proved himself no slouch in academics. Taking his appointment from the Naval Reserve quota he entered the Hall and found a home in the Navy. Chuck had been pointing for Navy for a long time. He knew what he wanted and he got it. This is the spirit that will take him a long way up the ladder in the outfit.
  • CROSS COUNTRY - 4, 3
  • STEEPLE CHASE - 4, 3, 2
  • SOFTBALL - 4, 3, 2, 1
  • VOLLEYBALL - 2, 1
  • TENNIS - 2

"The Lucky Bag, 1954" (USNA Yearbook)

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United States Naval Academy

Notes from The Virtual Wall

On the night of 21/22 April 1970 an AC-130A (tail number 54-1625, call sign "Ad Lib") of the 16th Special Operations Squadron departed Ubon RTAFB, Thailand, for a "truck-busting" mission along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in southern Laos. Two tactical aircraft, call signs Killer 1 and Killer 2, joined the AC-130 enroute to the workinng area.

At about 2 AM, while working a target some 25 miles east of Saravan, Laos, Ad Lib was hit by 37mm AAA fire and caught fire. Apart from a single advisory by Major Brooks, no radio calls were received before the burning AC-130 disappeared into the jungle below. Although Killer 1 did not see parachutes, Killer 2 did report the AC-130 crew was bailing out. While Killer 1 departed the area for in-flight refueling, Killer 2 remained on scene and did establish radio contact with a crewmember who identified himself as "Ad Lib 12", Major Fisher's crewman call sign.

At daybreak, search and rescue forces did locate and recover one crewman, Staff Sergeant Eugene L. Fields, but could not establish communications with or locate any of the other ten men. SSgt Fields was unable to offer any insights into what had happened to the ten missing crewmembers; he had groped his way through the smoke-filled cabin, located a parachute, bailed out, got caught up in a tree, and was unable to get to the ground until morning when he was picked up. Enemy activity precluded a ground search and eventually the SAR effort was terminated and the ten men were classed as Missing in Action.

Over time the Secretary of the Air Force approved Presumptive Findings of Death as indicated in the crew list below:

  • COL William L. Brooks, pilot, Tolar TX (05/22/1979)
  • 1st Lt John C Towle, copilot, Harrisburg IL (09/11/1978)
  • LtCol Charlie B Davis, navigator, Daysboro KY (05/28/1974)
  • LtCol Charles S Rowley, navigator, Riverton CT (11/03/1978)
  • Maj Donald G Fisher, navigator, Hazleton PA (07/17/1979)
  • MSgt Robert N Ireland, flight engineer, San Bernardino CA (09/11/1978)
  • SSgt Thomas Y Adachi, aerial gunner, Los Angeles CA (09/11/1978)
  • SSgt Eugene L Fields, aerial gunner (survived)
  • SSgt Stephen W Harris, illuminator operator, Springfield MO (05/28/1974)
  • SSgt Ronnie L Hensley, Richwood WV (09/11/1978)
  • A1c Donald M Lint, aerial gunner, Des Moines IA (09/11/1978)
The POW Network and Task Force Omega sites contain additional undocumented information that may or may not be worthy of credence. In 1993, a joint US/Lao team excavated the wreckage of 54-1625 and recovered more than 1,400 fragments of bone and teeth as well as aircrew-related equipment. On 01 Sep 1995 the US government announced that the recovered remains represented all ten of the missing men, and the comingled remains were given a group burial in Arlington National Cemetery on 08 Nov 1995. The family of one airman, Stephen W. Harris, asked that his name be left off the gravestone. The unofficial Arlington Cemetery site contains information from press reports of the time.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a classmate at the US Naval Academy,
J. Creighton Bricker
Col, USAF (Ret) (USNA '54) 
1 Jul 2004

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 07/02/2004