John Michael BowersLance Corporal
E CO, 2ND BN, 4TH MARINES, 3RD MARDIV
United States Marine Corps
18 September 1944 - 21 March 1966
Silver Spring, Maryland
Panel 06E Line 028
The database page for John Michael Bowers
"Johnny, we hardly knew you."From his sister,
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
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.
From a friend and brother Marine,
A Note from The Virtual WallOperation 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
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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