• elizabeth
  • Union
  • September 23, 1931
  • August 13, 1969
  • Marines
  • RANK:
  • LTC
  • KIA
  • South Vietnam


John Aloysius Dowd was born on September 23, 1931. His home of record is Elizabeth, NJ.

He served in the US Marine Corps and attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (LTC). Dowd was a commanding officer with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. Among his accomplishments as a Marine, Dowd started the Corps' Youth Physical Fitness Program for high school students while he was a recruiting officer in New York. The program was a hit, spreading to 1,600 high schools nationwide and benefiting hundreds of thousands of students. The national award was later named in memory of Dowd.

Dowd was killed in action on August 13, 1969. He was killed while leading his 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Corps through a rice paddy in pursuit of North Vietnamese forces. His wife, Barbara, and six children then ages 20 months to 13 survived him. His children are Kathleen Dowd, Margie Madsen, Maureen Lee and Mark, Scott and Sean Dowd.

He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, and a Purple Heart.

His citation for the Navy Cross reads:
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.

On July 17, 2009 Virginia Ancient Order of Hibernians during their state convention in Stafford honored Dowd. The Dowd tribute was held at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico. Jerry Trehy, a friend of Dowd and his family and a fellow Marine, delivered the main tribute, declaring that Dowd was the most natural leader and most engaging personality he had ever known, devoted to his faith, his wife and family and his country. "He led by example, " Trehy said. "Jack was a man's man and a Marine's Marine. He set high standards and expected those who served with him to measure up. He had a rare quality of making you feel special just by being around him." Previously in 1982 at Trehy's suggestion, the Woodbridge division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians was named the Lieutenant John A. Dowd Division.

Sources: Various websites and NJVVMF.


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