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Born on Aug. 31, 1945
Casualty was on May 9, 1968

Panel 57E - - Line 14

"Doc" Harry Bowman

"Doc" 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.

Operation HOUSTON II

"Doc" Bowman
Picture courtesy of Jerry Lomax

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the SILVER STAR MEDAL posthumously to

United States Navy,

for service as set forth in the following


"For 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 of safety.

Returning 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.

By 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."



The Bravest Man I Ever Knew

My 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, M/3/5

"Doc" Harry Bowman
(Picture courtesy of Jerry Lomax)

To a Real Hero

Doc, 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. 

You 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 deadly battle.

You 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.

I 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.

All 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 not forgotten.

Jerry Lomax
One of His Marines


Many 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 A CORPSMAN." 

Then 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 JOY.

Now, 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 per day.

This 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. 

Doc 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 with another.

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. 

After 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. 

I 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 also.

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 been shot.

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.

Curtis Batten
Weapons Plt. Mike Co. 
3rd Bn. 5th Marines

(click to enlarge)
3/5 Reunion 2002
LaGrange, Georgia

Harry 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.

During 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.


Julia 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 Georgia.

(click to enlarge)

Pat Bowman Larsen, Debbe Reynolds, Leslie Bowman Larsen and Julia Bowman Babcock (front and center).


(FMF Corpsman Memorial title by Redeye)