MAJ Rowe Repatriated information
for B/7/1 CAV

For date 681231

B/7/1 CAV was a US Army unit
21 ARVN DIV was a Vietnamese Army unit
5 SF GRP was a US Army unit
Primary service involved, US Army
An Xuyen Province, IV Corps, South Vietnam
Location, U Minh Forest
Description: The 7/1st Cav ORLL states: The B/7/1st Cav received a mission to VR an AO NW of Camau (VR953490) in support of the 21st ARVN Div Operations. While conducting the VR in the U Minh Forest (VR953490), B Troop located numerous sampans traveling SW along a network of canals, loaded with equipment and ammunition. The sampans were not camouflaged or hidden but were left along the canals as if the personnel traveling in them had departed in a hurry as the aircraft approached. B Troop inserted troops on the various clusters of sampans. As the teams and C&C aircraft orbited overhead, the Troop Commander observed what appeared to be a VC several hundred meters away. He was in tall grass and reeds waving a white cloth. It was surmised that this individual was possibly bait for a trap; however, the possibility of a defection or surrender could not be overlooked. The Troop Commander requested that his scout aircraft cover him while he approached the man to attempt a pick up. On landing in the area, he noticed that the man had a fair complexion and long beard, definitely not a Vietnamese. As the Troop Commander departed the area he notified the 21st ARVN Div, that he had just picked up James N. Rowe, an American officer who had been held prisoner by the VC for 5 years. The expression and relief displayed on Rowe's face after being picked up was enough to convince the men of B Troop that their year in Vietnam would be a memorable one and that 31 Dec 1968, would be a New Year's Eve never forgotten. The Troop dropped Rowe off at Camau to a reception committee of numerous personnel for examination and questioning and returned to the AO. Special Forces Major, then a 1LT, James Nick Rowe was captured on 29 Oct 1963 while on a patrol near Tan Phu. He was only the second American to escape from the VC. An insertation was made in the same vicinity where numerous caches of ammunition and equipment were secured. In one back pack, several pictures were found showing numerous Americans being examined by VC doctors. Rowe was included in some of these pictures. The contents, along with caches, were turned over to the 21st ARVN Div. In Five Years To Freedom, Nick Rowe provides his side of the story. He was being transfered to another location with a detachment of about six guards. They had been traveling for a few days. Some of the guards did not trust their leader and became increasingly nervous as the Air Cav worked around their area. Nick managed to convince one guard that they would be safer making one small path through the reeds than the wide one the group was making; so the guard directed him to separate from the group. Since Nick wasn't walking fast enough, the guard started breaking trail and had Nick follow behind carrying the camp radio the guard had. Other VC in the area were firing at the LOHs and they were returning fire, yet whenever the guard wasn't looking, Nick waved and tried to attract the attention of the helicopters. The guard had a burp gun and while moving through some thick vegatation, Nick got close enough to him to release the ammo magazine. After awhile the guard discovered this but with the helicopters making wider circles and in a general state of exhaustion, Nick was able to keep him moving. They passed a tree with dead branches where Nick picked up a short limb about two inches in diameter. He quickly stepped up to the guard and hit him at the base of the skull. Two more blows and Nick determined the VC was not going to follow him anymore, so he retrieved his net and the radio. He went a short distance then pushed the useless gurp gun into the mud. He had the presence of mind not to wave a weapon at the helicopters while wearing black. He found a small clear area and made it bigger by trampling the reeds while waving the white mosquito net. Nick was very concerned that other VC in the area would see and recapture him. After what seemed to be an eternity, one of the Cobras passed overhead and banked sharply to circle. Nick later learned that initially the C&C had told the guns to kill the lone individual but then MAJ David Thompson decided to try to capture him and directed the other helicopters to cover him. One of the door gunners noticed that Nick had a beard and yelled that the person was an American! They landed about 15 meters from Nick who ran toward them. Seeing nothing but the interior of the Huey and the green-sun-visored face of Mike Thompson, the gunner, Nick dove onto the cool metal flooring and yelled "Go! Go!" After five years he was out of the "Forest of Darkness." The pilot yelled for his name - R..O..W..E. Soon the pilot asked "Are you Nick Rowe?" When Nick said yes, the pilot took off his helmet so Nick could talk with one of his West Point classmates. The gunner, SP4 Mike Thompson, and the CE, SP4 Stevens, opened C-rations for Nick who gulpped it down as a miraculous feast. Nick said the voices speaking English were like music and he thought: "O Lord, please don't let me wake up and be back in the forest. Please don't let this be a dream."
Comments: MAJ Rowe, James N.; POW; ; MAJ Thompson, David; Troop CO; ; SP4 Stevens; CE; ; SP4 Thompson, Mike; Gunner; ;

The source for this information was 7/1 CAV ORLL dated 14 Feb 69; Green Berets at War P:90; 5 Years to Freedom

Additional information is available on CD-ROM.

Please send additions or corrections to: Gary Roush Email address:

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Date posted on this site: 05/13/2023