A Note from The Virtual Wall
In the second week of August 1969 the 1st Bn, 7th Marines were participating in a multi-battalion search-and-destroy mission near An Hoa. On the morning of the 12th, Echo 1/1, Alpha 1/7, and Charlie 1/7 all had contacts. At about 1430 Bravo 1/7 engaged an NVA force, and late in the afternoon Charlie 1/7 encountered another NVA element. By nightfall, the North Vietnamese were withdrawing, leaving 147 dead and 4 POWs behind, while the Marines had lost 17 men from 1/7 and one from Echo 1/1.
On the 13th, elements of 1/7 and the attached India Company, 3/5, swept the area. India 3/5 had a sharp engagement which resulted in 5 men killed and 32 wounded. One of the dead was Lieutenant Colonel John Dowd, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion, 7th Marines.
LtCol Dowd was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during an engagement on 21 April 1969. His actions on 12 and 13 August brought him a posthumous Navy Cross.
The President of the United States|
takes pride in presenting the
JOHN ALOYSIUS DOWD
for service as set forth in the following
United States Marine Corps
The Navy Cross is awarded to Lieutenant Colonel John A. Dowd, United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving as Commanding Officer of the First Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam on 12-13 August 1969. During this two-day period, Lieutenant Colonel Dowd aggressively led his battalion against North Vietnamese Army forces attempting to infiltrate the vital An Hoa and Da Nang areas. In the early morning hours of 12 August, Company B was preparing to depart its defensive position when the Marines came under coordinated mortar, rocket-propelled grenade, and small arms fire. Unhesitatingly leaving his relatively secure position, Lieutenant Colonel Dowd fearlessly traveled over 400 meters of enemy territory to the beleaguered unit's position and, after a rapid assessment of the tactical situation, boldly moved to a forward position from which he directed preparations for an aggressive attack against the enemy. Personally leading the subsequent assault, he simultaneously coordinated the movement of adjacent units along three fronts, causing the hostile force to attempt to withdraw. Aware of the enemy plan, Lieutenant Colonel Dowd deployed his men along all possible routes of egress, thereby denying the North Vietnamese Army force the opportunity to escape. As the battalion continued its search and destroy efforts, Company D was heavily engaged in combat by a large North Vietnamese Army force. When Company B was similarly engaged while en route to assist the beleaguered Marines, Lieutenant Colonel Dowd, completely disregarding his own safety, boldly moved to the point of heaviest contact and, calling for reinforcements, effected the encirclement of the hostile soldiers. Displaying outstanding tactical ability, he then adeptly maneuvered his units in an aggressive assault against the trapped enemy, the impetus of which completely demoralized the hostile unit and caused its defeat. On the following day, the battalion was advancing along a four company front when the Marines came under a heavy volume of small arms, automatic weapons, and machine gun fire from North Vietnamese Army soldiers occupying well-fortified emplacements in a tree line. After adjusting fixed wing air strikes and artillery fire on the enemy positions, Lieutenant Colonel Dowd, seeming to be completely without fear, was moving to an advantageous location from which to control the movement of his forces when he was mortally wounded by hostile machine gun fire. His resolute determination and bold initiative inspired all who observed him and were instrumental in his battalion accounting for 140 hostile soldiers killed, the apprehension of six prisoners, and the seizure of vast quantities of enemy weaponry. By his courage, dynamic leadership and unwavering devotion to duty, Lieutenant Colonel Dowd upheld the highest traditions of the United States Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.