HARRY THOMAS BOWMAN II
Born on Aug. 31, 1945
From WOOD RIDGE, NEW JERSEY
Casualty was on May 9, 1968
in THUA THIEN, SOUTH VIETNAM
57E - - Line 14
Harry Bowman served with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines,
M Company. He was Killed In Action tending to his wounded Marines
during Operation HOUSTON II. Doc Bowman's name stands proudly on the
Mike 3/5 Wall of Honor alongside his Marines and fellow FMF Corpsmen.
Semper fi, Doc. We will never forget.
Picture courtesy of Jerry Lomax
President of the United States takes pride in presenting
the SILVER STAR MEDAL posthumously to
HARRY THOMAS BOWMAN II,
United States Navy,
service as set forth in the following
I T A T I O N
conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving
as a Corpsman with Company M, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines,
First Marine Division.
On 9 May 1968, HM3 BOWMAN's unit came under intense fire from
a well entrenched force wounding several Marines. Observing
three injured Marines lying in an open area exposed to the
hostile fire and the courageously maneuvered across the fire-swept
terrain and carried the most seriously injured man to a position
to the hazardous area, he moved the second wounded Marine
to a position of relative safety and, before reaching the
remaining casualty, was wounded. Despite his injuries, he
steadfastly continued toward his fallen comrade and was mortally
wounded by heavy enemy fire.
his extraordinary courage, determination and devotion to duty
despite extreme personal danger, HM3 BOWMAN saved the lives
of two Marines and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine
Corps and of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly
gave his life in the service of his country."
W. BUSE, JR.
FLEET MARINE FORCE, PACIFIC
Bravest Man I Ever Knew
name is Rocco E. Giambrocco. I served with 'M' Company, 3rd Battalion,
5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division during the Vietnam War. I
met 'Doc' Bowman when I joined the Company in 1968. He was our Corpsman
and he saved many lives.
In early May 1968, our Company headed up a heavily fortified and occupied
position known as Hill 1192. I was walking point and discovered the
first signs of the enemy encampment - a small hut with a tunnel under
it, a smoking fire and some cooking food, clothes and four enemy soldiers.
Our point element, myself and two others, attacked and killed three,
and observed the fourth enemy crawl into the hole.
The rest of the Company came to the position, and after checking the
tunnel and finding that it went on for what seemed forever, we continued
up the hill. After about ten minutes, we started down a ridge and
I was shot, and so were several other men at the same time.
This was to be our position for days. We fought the enemy and he picked
us off - one by one. 'Doc' went out under fire, and pulled to safety
several Marines. He treated their wounds, and then went out after
more. Eventually 'Doc' was wounded.
This did not deter him from his duty. 'Doc' went out again and again.
He was then hit a second time, just as he had reached a wounded Marine
out in the open. Twice wounded, 'Doc' continued to work on this Marine,
who could not yet be moved to a safer location, and we all laid down
as much cover-fire as we could for him. We were so drastically outnumbered.
As 'Doc' worked rapidly, he ignored his own injuries. I glanced up
at one point and saw him shield the body of that Marine as a hail
of automatic gunfire rained down upon them. Then 'Doc' kneeled back
up, and continued tending to the wounds. Another Corpsman reached
them and began to help.
Within a matter of a few seconds there was another burst of automatic
fire in their direction. This time 'Doc' was hit for the third time.
He kneeled for a second, then slumped over the Marine he had been
trying to save. 'Doc' was dead. This put a fear in me that I had never
had before. I saw 'Doc' as an "untouchable" - he saved lives.
What 'Doc' did that day deserved the highest honor that our Nation
could bestow. I do not know if he ever was awarded anything, but he
deserved it for sure.
'Doc' was a very smart man. He knew the bush, he knew the enemy, and
he knew his job. He had a great sense of humor, and he was always
ready to help when he was needed. He was the best medical assistance
any Marine could have hoped for. He had a combination of courage,
focus, and a strong sense of duty and honor.
May 9, 1968 was a single day in a week that I will never forget. 'Doc'
Bowman was a man that lost his life while saving a life. I miss him,
and I honor his memory.
I will visit The Wall May 13-15, 2000 and find his name, along with
the names of the dozens of other men who died on that Hill in 1968.
I will remember 'Doc' as the bravest man I ever knew - and that remains
so to this day.
God Bless you, 'Doc', and thank you for all that you gave to those
of us who lived because of your courage and honor. Rock Giambrocco,
(Picture courtesy of Jerry Lomax)
a Real Hero
you were liked by everybody who knew you. You were different from
most Docs because you carried almost every weapon that everyone else
was carrying + all your medical gear. You cared about your Marines,
and you gave your life showing how much you cared.
were always fun to be around. You were always serious when you
had to be. You cared more about your Marines than you did yourself.
This caring cost you your life and to this day, you are my biggest
hero. You knew what had to be done even in the face of a vicious and
did it, and from that moment on, you left a memory that remains, even
after 32 years, with all those Marines that knew you. You see, you
touched their hearts with unselfish heroism. You died in my arms on
May 9, 1968, at Hai Van Pass and the NVA Base Camp, and I will never
forget how crushed and devastated everyone was that knew you.
wish you were alive to see it. You were hit with three rounds in your
side while going after the wounded. But, that was your Marine
that you went to help, and that was the way you were. You
will always be remembered by all those other Marines, who were
your Marines also. Thanks for the privilege.
our hearts sank when you died. You were a real hero to all of your
Marines. May 9, 1968, was a black day for all those Marines in Mike
Company, 3/5, 1st Marine Division, Thua Thien Province at Hai Van
Pass. You were one of many of our friends who died that day. You are
One of His Marines
years ago those of us which had to endure the horrors of combat from
World War I, and before, to Viet Nam and after, have all had the opportunity
to know Naval Hospital Corpsmen. The United States Marine Corps has
never bothered with having Corpsmen or Chaplains. They have always
come to us from the Naval ranks, which the Marines are a branch of.
These guys were not any different than the rest of us except in our
minds. These young men were taken from the streets of America, and
the cornfields of rural America and then sent to basic training. Some
requested to be Hospital Corpsmen or as I have sometimes heard them
called, Pharmacist Mates, and then others were tested, and based upon
the scores of these tests were just told "YOU ARE GOING TO BE
these young men were sent to a place where for a very, very short
time they under went training to become Corpsmen. They were given
the training and then afterwards they were sent into the fleet. A
number of these young men were plucked from the fleet and told YOU
ARE GOING TO VIET NAM. After arriving in Viet Nam they were assigned
to a hospital, then a number of these young men were plucked from
the hospitals and told YOU ARE GOING TO SERVE WITH MARINES, Oh JOY
I knew a number of these guys and as one told me, "I joined the
Navy to keep from being drafted into the Army so that I would not
have to be in the BUSH--NOW LOOK AT ME, I'M A GRUNT JARHEAD".
He had wanted to be on a ship with clean sheets and three square meals
corpsman is today not among us. He died in a friend of mine's arms
on a No-Name useless hill. I watched him die and then I cried that
night because I had lost a very dear friend. His name was HARRY THOMAS
BOWMAN, but to us he was just simply DOC, nothing more and nothing
less. Maybe we should have named that hill "BOWMAN HILL"
but this we could not do, because there were so very many other good
young men which also died upon that useless hill.
I can remember talking with Doc and now that I am grown, even
though we thought that we were then, I can now realize some of the
insight into what Doc was talking about. I now have a son which is
a Paramedic on an ambulance and myself after working for a number
of years as a law enforcement officer, can I fully realize and understand
the totality of the frustration which Doc encountered on a daily basis,
until the end of his very short life.
was nothing special other than being a HERO to a number of us who
had the opportunity to really know him and his sense of humor. I realize
that others have also written about this man, but maybe that is a
testament to his courage and spirit. Doc was no different than any
of his fellow Corpsmen it's just that I had the pleasure of knowing
him well. And after his death I would not allow myself to become friendly
All Corpsmen were trained in very rudimentary emergency medical procedures
and were provided with sparse supplies and equipment. Not for any
other reason than they had to carry their hospital with them. Most
Corpsmen treated anything from a heart attack to heat stroke to bodies
severed in half. For the most part if they were a field corpsman in
Viet Nam they have seen and treated more trauma cases. Very, very
severe trauma cases. More than most doctors of today will see in their
entire medical career and that includes large trauma hospitals.
many years in law enforcement, very seldom did I see victims mangled
in such horrible fashion as these young men encountered and then for
the most part these victims were transported to the morgue instead
of the hospital. The reason they were able to observe and treat or
attempt to treat these cases was because they were there, on the scene
with the Marines in the bush as it happened. They carried their hospital
with them, on their backs.
have watched and helped Doc as he took a package of my cigarettes
and removed the cellophane wrapper from the outside of the pack and
then place it onto the entry point of a sucking chest wound caused
by a bullet and then tell me to "hold this in place while I try
to stop up his back". Try that in one of these fancy hospitals
of today. Guess what, it worked!!! At least long enough for that Marine
to be medivaced to Charlie Medical in DaNang, I don't know what the
final outcome was ,but we checked later and was told that the Marine
had made the medivac trip to Charlie Medical and was doing O.K.
Doc was special to all of us that he lived with. He would treat
our bumps and bruises and blisters and bo-bo's, as you called them
Doc, after the day's march was done and we had set into a night perimeter
for the night. It did not matter that he was trying to eat or sleep
when we came around, he would just "fix it".
The most flagrant complaint which I ever heard Doc utter, was his
having to cope with such tragic trauma cases and not having the proper
equipment. His having to perform surgery in the field when he
was not supposed to be performing surgery. And then performing surgery
without any of the proper sterile medical equipment or locations.
It is tough doing a tracheotomy while lying on your side in a rice
paddy full of water and having to keep your patient from drowning
I even heard him yell, in frustration one time, to the clouds or to
God or to whoever was willing to listen to him, "DO YOU THINK
I AM A DOCTOR"!!!!! Yeah, Doc, we did. That is why we loved you.
You took care of us all of us even our enemy when the time came. All
before you took the time to care for yourself. That is why you died
on that tragic day in May in 1968 on that useless no-name hill. Hill
1192. You died while trying to save the life of one of YOUR Marines,
even after we told you it was useless. Even after you yourself had
Doc I have started to cry again. I desperately wish you were here
to again fix my bo-bo as you did before. It has taken me 33 years,
almost to the day, to make this journey. Thanks Doc for giving me
those years. Thanks Doc for giving me the courage to tell this story.
Weapons Plt. Mike Co.
3rd Bn. 5th Marines
Bowman's sisters, Pat and Judith, escorted by "Doc's Marines,"
Rock Giambrocco, Jerry Lomax and Curtis Batten, receive a shadowbox
with Doc's medals.
Saturday's presentations Sgt. Maj. Wright and Gen. Ray Davis honored
the family of "Doc" Harry Bowman. Doc Bowman was KIA 9 May
'68 on Mother's Day when M Co. 3/5 ran into an NVA Base Camp up on
Haivan Pass. Doc Bowman was awarded the Silver Star, posthumously.
M/3/5 Marines met Doc Bowman's family for the first time.
Babcock was almost 9 years old whe she wrote this. Her grandmother
is Patricia Bowman Larsen, "Doc" Harry Bowman's sister.
The two Marines she refers to are Jerry Lomax and Curtis Batten. Julia
wrote this for a school assignment shortly after the 3/5 Reunion in