More detail on this person: On Thursday, April 23rd 2020, Col. (RET) R. Wayne Fowler (72) passed away peacefully holding the hand of his wife of fifty-four years, Dona L. Ratliff (71), of Radcliff, KY. Wayne was born on August 15th, 1947 in Frankfort, Germany to Mary E. and Floyd Fowler while his father was stationed there after WWII. Wayne entered the U.S. Army on 1 August 1966 under the High School to Flight School program they offered his senior year of high school at North Hardin. On 21 October 1966 he married his high school sweetheart, Dona L. Ratliff between Advanced Infantry Training (AIT) and flight school in Ft. Walters, TX. It was a small ceremony at Stithton Baptist Church attended by the bride, the groom, their parents, and immediate family. After a couple of unsuccessful tries, Wayne and Dona were finally able to start their family. They raised two daughters, Kathryn Denise (1970) and Tiffanni Lynn (1974). The U.S. Army afforded Wayne the opportunity to be the first Fowler to attend college. He graduated Embry Riddle Aeronautical University with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. He obtained a Master's Degree from Auburn University during his pre-command courses over the summer of 1985 while in Ft. Rucker, AL. Wayne had an adventurous spirit which demonstrated itself in his love of hunting, fishing, mechanics, driving, flying and boating. When it can be said that most grooms might be late for their weddings due to an overindulgence of alcohol, Wayne was almost late to his due to squirrel hunting with his brother-in-law, Bill Waters and his best man, Tommy Burns. Wayne not only loved to hunt, but was at times an avid fisherman. He also found great sport in hunting rattle snakes and terrifying his daughters with their dead bodies. Later in life he hung up his fishing equipment and chose to just enjoy the solitude of the water via his cabin cruiser. He and Dona enjoyed their weekends on the water and made many friends this way. Wayne was best known throughout much of his adult life for being larger than life; with a cigarette in one hand and a Diet Coke in the other, his blue, blue eyes crinkled in laughter while cutting up or telling a good story. He was known to be a fair minded, but frank individual, who took pride in hearing all the facts, and making decisions based on those. What he lacked in tact he made up for in honesty. Because of these characteristics, most regarded him with a love him or leave him respect. He was considered an especially fair commander. He often saw the world in black and white. As fair as he was, he could also be a swift judge of character, a strict disciplinarian and an excellent leader. For better or worse he could make a decision and stick to it. His life was guided in service by honor, duty, and self-sacrifice. It was these qualities and more that gave him the ability to do things simple humans could or would not attempt to do. He never cared for the accolades or attention his heroic actions garnered, but he was proud and honored to have been inducted November 7th 2013 into the Madison County Heroes Hall of Fame for Valor in combat. Wayne arrived in Vietnam, at the age of 19 and was deployed for three tours as a helicopter pilot, first in '66 to lead a scout platoon and subsequently from `67-`68 and `69-`70, as a scout that located the enemy and marked the targets for the gunships. On Feb. 1, 1968, then warrant officer R. Wayne Fowler piloted a Hiller OH-23 Raven light observation helicopter on an aerial reconnaissance mission near Thanh An, while assigned to the 10th Cavalry, 4th Infantry Division. For his actions on that date, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism while participating in aerial flight for locating a recently used base camp. Hovering his aircraft over a bunker complex and conducting reconnaissance by fire. This prompted the enemy to fire upon the aircraft, thus the location was marked, the gunships were notified and commenced striking the complex. He brought the aircraft back over the enemy location to assess the damage, came under hostile fire again and once more marked the target with red smoke and dropped incendiary grenades. This continued throughout the afternoon and into the evening. His relentless and courageous coverage kept the enemy from escaping. He then guided armored personnel carriers into the area, providing cover for insertion of Troop D's Aero-Rifle Platoon. The operation continued into the hours of darkness and he stayed on station to control the action from his aircraft, which was not equipped for night flight. Once the enemy had been defeated, he carefully guided the armored personnel carriers back to the main trail by using his searchlight. (No doubt with a cigarette dangling from his lips.) WO R. Wayne Fowler also received the Bronze Star Medal for Valor for actions he took in combat with his helicopter. He landed the aircraft to recover a crewman who had gotten killed. He also received an Army Commendation Medal while serving in Vietnam.These are but a few of the numerous heroic actions Wayne took throughout his life that contributed to his larger than life personality and endeared him to so many people whose lives he touched. Wayne is preceded in death by his father, Floyd Fowler (d.1980), his mother, Mary Elizabeth Blumenstein Fowler Edwards (d.2001), his sister, Helga Fowler Waters (d.2008), his brother in law, Bill Waters (d.2010), his mother-in-law, Marynell Hays Ratliff (d.1993) and father-in-law, Matthew Ratliff (d.2007). He is survived by his wife, Dona Lea Ratliff Fowler, his daughters, Kathryn Denise Fowler Devine (Andrew Devine), and Tiffanni Lynn Fowler (Chet Weber), his sister Florence Evelyn Fowler Parker (Jim Parker), his nieces: Donna Waters Hughes, Pam Waters Jefferson (Mike Jefferson), Erika Waters and his nephew, Mike Waters (Erin Waters) and many other beloved family and friends. Due to restrictions regarding COVID-19 Wayne's visitation and funeral service is limited to ten immediate family members with both services to take place on the same day. Both services will be held in person and online with Zoom in order to include as many people as we can who may have attended in person. Services have now been officially scheduled for Thursday, 30 April 2020 beginning with visitation at 13:00 at Nelson-Edelen-Bennett Funeral Home located at 205 Highland Ave., Vine Grove, KY 40175 to be immediately followed by the funeral service at North Hardin Memorial Gardens Cemetery, 1100 S Logsdon Pkwy, Radcliff, KY 40160. The zoom will be done in two separate parts, same URL and code. Funeral is scheduled to start at approximately 14:15. He will be laid to rest with his in-laws at North Hardin Memorial Cemetery. Attendance by Zoom is limited to 100 participants, should you wish to join the information is here: Join Zoom Meeting https://us04web.zoom.us/j/4322561416 Meeting ID: 432 256 1416 We thank you for taking the time to read this and celebrate his life. He truly was seven feet tall in a 5'10" package.
This information was last updated 05/01/2020
Please send additions or corrections to: HQ@vhpa.org VHPA Headquarters
Return to the Helicopter Pilot DAT name list
Return to VHPA web site
Date posted on this site: 07/12/2023
Copyright © 1998 - 2023 Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association