Colonel James "Nick" Rowe
February 8, 1938 - April 21, 1989
Colonel James "Nick" Rowe was a West Point Graduate, a Special Forces Officer, a former POW, a teacher and a true American hero. Born in McAllen, Texas on February 8, 1938, James "Nick" Rowe graduated from West Point in 1960 and was assigned to Viet Nam as a Special Forces Officer in 1963. On October 29, 1963, after only 3 months in country, then 1LT Rowe was captured by the Viet Cong with CAPT Rocky Versace and Sgt. Daniel Pitzer. Rowe spent 62 months in captivity, survived dysentery, beriberi, fungal disease and physical torture at the hands of his captors. After a number of unsuccessful attempts, Lt Rowe was finally able to overpower his captors and make his escape in December of 1968.
In 1971 Major Rowe, promoted during his time as a prisoner of war, published "Five Years to Freedom" recounting his ordeal as a Viet Cong prisoner, his eventual escape and return home and which was the culmination of his diary written while a prisoner of war. Also published in 1971, was "Southeast Asia Survival Journal" which he wrote for the United States Department of the Air Force. Upon his return home to McAllen he was presented with lifetime memberships in the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In 1974, Major Rowe made the decision to leave the service. He continue to write, co-authoring "The Washington Connection" with Robin Moore, which was published by Condor Press in 1977, and in the same year Little, Brown and Company published his first novel, The Judas Squad.
In 1981, Major Rowe was recalled to active duty to design and implement a Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training course at the United States Army Special forces School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Today, this course is considered by many as the most important advanced training in the special operations field. Taught at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, SERE trains soldiers to avoid capture, but if caught, to survive and return home with honor. Much of the SERE course is conducted at the Rowe compound. In early 1985, now Lieutenant Colonel Rowe left the SERE committee to become Commander of the 1st Special Forces Warfare Training Battalion, U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (USAJFKSWCS) at Fort Bragg.
In 1987, Lieutenant Colonel Rowe was assigned as the chief of the Army division of the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG), Philippines, providing counter-insurgency training for the Philippine military. In this capacity, he worked closely with the CIA, and was involved in its nearly decade-old program to penetrate the communist New Peoples' Army (NPA) and its parent communist party in conjunction with Philippine's own intelligence organizations
Colonel Rowe was buried May 2, 1989 in Section 48 at Arlington National Cemetery. His grave is on the hill next to the Monument of the Unknown Soldier. Inscribed on his gravestone are the words from a poem he wrote in 1964 while a POw.
"So look up ahead at times to come, despair is not for us.
We have a world and more to see, while this remains behind."
A Soldier has fallen
He will not be forgotten
His spirit dwells in those
Whose lives he touched
He has lead us
He has taught us
He has shown us the way
He gave us all of himself
Because he was made that way
He gave birth to an idea
That will never go away
He did this all
To save us some day
As all heroes