Francis Ellsworth Dowling
Operation Shenandoah II was a 1st Infantry Division (Big Red One) operation covering an area northeast of the Michelin rubber plantation.
The battle of Ong Thanh, located 5 miles east of the Michelin rubber plantation, where the Iron Triangle and War Zone C virtually merged, began on the morning of October 17th. It was one of the most costly enemy ambushes of the war. The ambush occurred near the boundary line between Binh Long and Binh Duong Province. As Alpha Company, 2/28 Infantry "Black Lions" of the 3rd (Iron) Brigade commanded by Lt. Colonel Terry Allen, Jr., whose father had led the Big Red One during World War II in North Africa and Sicily, searched the jungle for the elusive 271st VC regiment, enemy fire suddenly erupted from all sides.
Colonel Allen was among those cut down in the first burst, along with his Command Sergeant Major, Francis Ellsworth Dowling. When the battalion's operations officer, Major Donald W. Hollander, who had been an All-American end at West Point in 1954, tried to reach the battalion to take command, he was also killed by VC fire.
Although the 271st VC Regiment lost 106 men killed, they took a heavy toll on the Black Lions of the 2/28: 57 killed, 75 wounded and 2 missing in action. Medevac helicopters were unable to land in the area on the 17th because of the overwhelming enemy fire.
Read more of the Battle of Ong Thanh and learn the names of the men killed in action.
Command Sergeant Major Francis Ellsworth Dowling was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Section 12, Site 3303. He was survived by his wife, Norma J Dowling, Fayetteville, NC and his father, Claude E. Dowling, Eastland Texas.
SGM Dowling's marker in Arlington
SGM Dowling 'pinned' in promotion to Command Sergeant Major,
5th Infantry Division, 1965 from Commanding General and wife Norma
From left to right: Major James Shelton, LTC Terry Allen Jr. and SGM Francis Dowling.
Both Allen and Dowling were killed on October 17, 1967
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