Click here for more information about this incident

Name: CW2 Robert Moffett Dowling
Status: Killed In Action from an incident on 01/12/1966 while performing the duty of Aircraft Commander.
Age at death: 27.5
Date of Birth: 07/22/1938
Home City: Centralia, WA
Service: AV branch of the reserve component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: 197 AHC
Major organization: other
Flight class: 64-5W
Service: AV branch of the U.S. Army.
The Wall location: 04E-067
Short Summary: Aircraft went down at sea off Qui Nhon. They were attacked by sharks before they could be rescued.
Aircraft: UH-1B tail number 63-08653
Service number: W3350356
Country: South Vietnam
MOS: 062B = Helicopter Pilot, Utility and Light Cargo Single Rotor
Primary cause: A/C Accident
Major attributing cause: aircraft connected not at sea
Compliment cause: weapons
Vehicle involved: helicopter
Position in vehicle: co-pilot
Started Tour: 01/07/1965
"Official" listing: helicopter air casualty - other aircrew
Length of service: 08
Location: Offshore, Unknown Province

Additional information about this casualty:
From The Daily Chronicle, April 30, 1966 "Lewis County's first casualty in the Viet Nam war, Chief Warrant Officer Robert M. Dowling of Chehalis, was posthumously awarded four medals in an impressive ceremony April 21 at Fort Lewis. The medals were received by Dowling's widow, Mary, on behalf of her husband. Maj. General Arthur S. Collins, Jr., post and division commander at Fort Lewis, presented the medals and was himself impressed with the gallantry of the Lewis County serviceman. "This is the largest number of decorations I have had the privilege to present to one person at one time," the general said. Dowling died in Viet Nam Jan. 12, 1966 from wounds received in action. The medals he received include: The Purple Heart, for wounds received in action which resulted in his death; the Bronze Star for Valor - for heroism in ground combat on Jan 1, 1966; the Distinguished Flying Cross - for heroism while participating in aerial flight in Viet Nam on Sept. 30, 1965; eight oak leaf clusters to the Air Medal (each cluster signifying 25 combat aerial missions over enemy territory in support of ground forces), the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with palm - presented by the Republic of Viet Nam (in December) for heroic action against the enemy, and a company plaque presented by the officers and men of the 197th Armed Helicopter Company. The acts of heroism which resulted in the medals for Dowling read like chapters out of a thrilling war novel. For example, this was the action that lead to the Bronze Star: "...Dowling distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 1 January 1966 while serving as co-pilot of an armed helicopter during combat operations near Tuy Hoa. When his helicopter was shot down by Viet Cong .30 caliber automatic weapons fire, Dowling suffered a badly sprained left hand and a severe blow to the head. Although he was seriously wounded he salvaged one grenade launcher and one rifle, and returned devastating fire in the Viet Cong automatic weapons position surrounding the crash site until his ammunition was expended. Then, with complete disregard for his personal safety, he exposed himself to the insurgent position and painfully made his way back to the downed aircraft to secure more ammunition. Refusing medical aid, he returned to his position and silenced a Viet Cong automatic weapon. When a rescue helicopter landed, Dowling provided deadly fire cover and refused to leave his position until the remainder of his crew was safely aboard the aircraft..." And an excerpt from the Distinguished Flying Cross award: "...Through his courage, dedication, and outstanding marksmanship, he contributed immeasurably to the successful completion of the mission which saved many lives..." The company award was in recognition of "outstanding performance of duty while logging 251.7 combat hours and 291 combat missions." Dowling attended Chehalis schools and graduated from W. F. West High School in 1956 and from Centralia College in 1958. He also attended the University of Washington and worked as a pilot for a number of business firms. Because he loved flying, he decided to make the U.S. Army his career and was commissioned a warrant officer when he joined in 1963. By then he had already fulfilled his military obligation by serving seven years in the Marine Corps Reserve. He was sent to Viet Nam from Fort Lewis in June, 1965. The helicopter pilot was married to Mary Garrison, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Dayton B. Garrison, Centralia, in 1958. They have four children- Bonnie, 3; Susie, 4; Bobby, 5; and Laurie, 6. Attending the award ceremony at Ft. Lewis with the widow were her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Garrison; her husband's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Tad Dowling, Chehalis; David Dowling, Tacoma, a brother, and other relatives."

Web site(s) refering to this casualty:

Reason: aircraft lost or crashed at sea
Casualty type: Hostile - died while missing
married male U.S. citizen
Race: Caucasian
Religion: Methodist (Evangelical United Brethren)
The following information secondary, but may help in explaining this incident.
Category of casualty as defined by the Army: battle dead Category of personnel: active duty Army Military class: warrant officer
This record was last updated on 01/23/2006

This information is available on CD-ROM.

Additional information is available on KIAs at

Please send additions or corrections to: The VHPA Webmaster Gary Roush.

KIA statistics

Return to the Helicopter Pilot KIA name list

Return to the KIA panel date index

Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023

Copyright © 1998 - 2023 Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association