BOWERS, RICHARD LEE
Name: Richard Lee Bowers
Rank/Branch: O3/US Army
Unit: MAT IV-49, MACV Advisory Team 71
Date of Birth: 20 July 1946 (Oregon WI)
Home City of Record: Lake Mills WI
Date of Loss: 24 March 1969
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 093339N 1054938E (WR908569)
Status (In 1973): Prisoner of War
Other Personnel In Incident: Gerasimo Arroyo-Baez (Prisoner, remains returned)
Source: Compiled from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S.
Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families,
published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK in 2020.
REMARKS: DIED IN ESCAPE ON CAPTURE DAY
SYNOPSIS: Gerasimo Arroya-Baez and Richard L. Bowers, two U.S. advisors, two
other Americans and a number of ARVN personnel were on duty at Tam Soc
operating base in Ba Xuayn Province, near Saigon. The base personnel awoke
early on the morning of March 24, 1969, to find the unit under attack by
what was estimated to be a company-sized Viet Cong force and a heavy weapons
sections using mortars, automatic weapons, small arms and B40 rockets.
Richard Bowers was heard on the radio calling for help when the radio went
dead. A relief force was sent out to help. When it arrived, all the
Vietnamese defenders of Tam Due Operations Base were found dead, along with
two Americans. Bowers and Arroya-Baez, the American advisors, were not to be
A Vietnamese civilian who had been captured and later escaped stated that
Bowers and Arroya-Baez had been taken prisoner, dressed in black pajamas,
and were seen being led off into the jungle. Numerous intelligence reports
were received concerning two U.S. POWs fitting the descriptions of Bowers
and Arroya-Baez, that were seen by ARVN and VC personnel at different times
and locations after their capture, some conflicting. A Vietnamese who was
captured and escaped stated that Arroya-Baez was alive but that Bowers had
been shot the day of capture. The combination of the most credible reports
indicate that Bowers and Arroya-Baez were captured during the battle, but in
the confusion were able to escape. The were located by the Viet Cong,
however, on the same evening. The next day, a VC guard killed Bowers after
he had again attempted to escape.
After it was determined that Bowers was dead, the guard and Arroya-Baez
departed with the rest of their group and were forced to travel a number of
days by foot and sampan.
The files of Bowers and Arroya-Baez are still classified. Gerasimo
Arroya-Baez's name appeared on the "Died in Captivity" list provided by the
Provisional Government of Vietnam in 1973, and it was stated that he died in
captivity August 22, 1972. Fourteen years later, in March 1985, the
Vietnamese "discovered" the remains of Arroya-Baez and returned them to the
U.S. They have yet to "discover" the fate or remains of Richard Lee Bowers.