CLOWER, CLAUDE DOUGLAS RIP 10/02/2010
Name: Claude Douglas Clower Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy Unit: Fighter Squadron 151, USS CORAL SEA (CVA 43) Date of Birth: Home City of Record: Beaumont TX Date of Loss: 19 November 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 204400N 1063900E (XH683896) Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4B
Other Personnel in Incident: Walter O Estes (killed in captivity); on another F4 in same flight: Theodore G. Stier (released POW); James E. Teague (killed in captivity)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 1990 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 2006 with information provided by CDR Stier..
REMARKS: 730315 RELSD DRV `
SYNOPSIS: The USS CORAL SEA participated in combat action against the Communists as early as August 1964. Aircraft from her squadrons flew in the first U.S. Navy strikes in the Rolling Thunder Program against targets in North Vietnam in early 1965 and participated in Flaming Dart I strikes. The next year, reconnaissance aircraft from her decks returned with the first photography of Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) sites in North Vietnam. The A1 Skyraider fighter aircraft was retired from the USS CORAL SEA in 1968. The CORAL SEA participated in Operation Eagle Pull in 1975, evacuating American personnel from beleaguered Saigon, and remained on station to assist the crew of the MAYAGUEZ, which was captured by Cambodian forces in 1975. The attack carriers USS CORAL SEA, USS HANCOCK and USS RANGER formed Task Force 77, the carrier striking force of the U.S. Seventh Fleet in the Western Pacific.
The F4 Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2), and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high altitudes. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around.
LTJG James E. Teague and LTCDR Claude D. Clower were F4 pilots assigned to Fighter Squadron 151 onboard the USS CORAL SEA. On November 19, 1967, the two were launched in F4B Phantom aircraft with their Radar Intercept Officers (RIO) on a mission near Haiphong, North Vietnam. Teague's RIO was LTJG Theodore G. Stier, and Clower's RIO was LTJG Walter O Estes. Clower and Estes were aboard the lead aircraft in the flight section of two aircraft. They were assigned to protect a strike group being launched from the USS INTREPID.
Teague and Clower proceeded to the assigned target, and while over the target they were attacked by enemy MiG aircraft. Both aircraft were shot down. Teague's aircraft was hit first. He began an immediate course change towards the coast. His aircraft was intact except for small fires burning around the radome and air conditioning. LTJG Stier was seen to eject, but Clower did not see another parachute and did not notice if the front canopy was still on the aircraft. (NOTE: The ejection sequence on the F4 is for the rear seater to eject first, followed by the pilot in the front.)
All four crewmen were initially placed in Missing in Action casualty status. Radio Hanoi broadcasts and other information led the Navy to believe that all four crewmen had survived their shootdown and were captured by the North Vietnamese. The Vietnamese released the identification cards of Estes, Stier and Teague. The status of the four was changed to Prisoner of War.
In the spring of 1973, 591 Americans were released in Operation Homecoming from prisons in and around Hanoi. Stier and Clower were among those released. During the years of their captivity, Stier had been advanced in rank to Lieutenant and Clower to the rank of Commander. Estes and Teague had also been advanced in rank; Estes to Lieutenant Commander and Teague to Lieutenant. Estes and Teague were not returned in 1973. They were among a group of hundreds of Americans who were known or suspected to be held prisoner who were not released at the end of the war. In this case, the Vietnamese acknowledged the capture of Stier and Clower and denied knowledge of Estes and Teague, even though an AP wire photo originated by the Vietnam News Agency (North Vietnam) clearly showed their ID cards with the caption that they were "captured in Haiphong."
In late September 1970, the remains of James E. Teague and Walter O Estes II were returned by the Vietnamese to U.S. control. For 10 years, dead or alive, they had been held prisoner.
For 10 years, the Vietnamese denied knowledge of the fates of Teague and Estes, even though there was evidence that the two had been captured.
Disturbing testimony was given to Congress in 1980 that the Vietnamese "stockpiled" the remains of Americans to return at politically advantageous times. Did Estes and Teague wait, in a casket, for just such a moment?
Even more disturbing are the nearly 10,000 reports received by the U.S. relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities who have examined this information (largely classified), have reluctantly come to the conclusion that many Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia. Were Estes and Teague alive in captivity after hostilities between the U.S. and Vietnam ceased?
Perhaps the most compelling questions when remains are returned are, "Is it really who they say it is?", and "How -- and when -- did he die?" As long as reports continue to be received which indicate Americans are still alive in Indochina, we can only regard the return of remains as a politically expedient way to show "progress" on accounting for American POW/MIAs. As long as reports continue to be received, we must wonder how many are alive.
As long as even one American remains alive, held against his will, we must do everything possible to bring him home -- alive.
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977 Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602 Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors). UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
CLAUDE DOUGLAS CLOWER Commander - United States Navy Shot Down: November 19, 1967 Released: March 17, 1973
This poem was written by Commander Clower while in prison. He composed it for his wife.
The puffy clouds that dot the sky Their fleeting somber shadows signify The mood of wives and mothers of the men They possibly may never see again.
This cruise is different from the one before For duty calls us to some hostile shore. I now hear your words of comfort to one "This duty calls my husband and your son,
We must prepare for any sacrifice And hope that only duty will suffice. Your cheerful smile, your poise, your stylish dress Assurance of your strength to meet this test.
With our most cherished mem'ries within me The winds of Freedom blew us out to sea. The years of war require much sacrifice, And now I too have had to pay this price, Shot down and captured in a hostile land, Deprived of all the dreams we once had planned.
Our Ginny has now grown to womanhood, But I am convinced she has understood Just why for Freedom's cause I wasn't free, And why both Mom and Dad you had to be.
All those whose men were missing felt this pain, But none so much as those who hoped in vain. Sweetheart, you took it well, I'm proud of you Our life and love we'll now renew Though all my love for you will long remain You know when duty calls I'll go again.
November 1996 Claude Clower retired from the United States Navy as a Commander. He and his wife Maurine reside in Texas.
02/98 More on Claude Clower's captivity can be found on pages 22 and 161 of Benjamin Schemmer's "THE RAID." It states:
Periodically, the North Vietnamese would move the senior ranking prisoner out of Son Tay. It usually happened whenever the "V" were displeased because prisoners were being obstinate in their interrogation sessions or caught in a lot of infractions like not bowing to the guards, or communicating between cells. Julius Jayroe was SRO when Ralph Gaither moved into Son Tay late in 1968. By the time Mo Baker arrived in December of 1969, Render Crayton was SRO. But the North Vietnamese moved him late that month or early in January. Marine Corps Major John H. "Howie" Dunn, a December 1965 shootdown, took over from him, but Dunn was shipped out in May of 1970. Lieutenant Commander Claude D. "Doug" Clower, a prisoner since mid-November 1967, then took over as the senior American in Son Tay Prison.
Like all SROS, Clower had the prisoners tabulate and keep current a mental "data bank" of every American any prisoner had seen alive on North Vietnamese soil. By May of 1970, there were about 370 names on the "corporate" list. Mo Baker had 357 of them in his data bank. And Clower kept encouraging the men to pass on every shred of information they could garner on the lay of the land outside those compound walls.
Date: Sat, 8 Jul 2006 16:40:17 EDT Subject: Clower/Teague Shootdown Sequence To: firstname.lastname@example.org
The narrative sequence regarding the shootdown of our 2 a/c is in error. Clower's plane was the first to be hit and exploded not Teague's. I (Stier) only saw one chute from Clower's a/c and about the same time we, Teague/Stier, came under fire. Tracer's enveloped our a/c but there was no explosion of our a/c.. The Mig 17's discontinued their attack after their firing run and went their merry way. I gave Jack Teague a heading to the coast and when we were established on the outbound heading the a/c ran out of flying speed and pitched nose up, and went in to a flat spin. Realizing the a/c was no longer flying I called to Jack Teague on our intercom and informed him I was ejecting. The rest is history. If possible please correct the shootdown narrative sequence as it is erroneus and has been that way since this web page came online. Thanks for your effort.
Theodore G. Stier CDR, USN(Ret.)
Doug passed away peacefully at our farm Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010, at 2:08am.
Before Doug passed away he asked me to send the following message to you:
"I flew west to be with the Great Architect of the universe, our Lord
and Savior. I thank you for all the emails, phone calls, food, visits,
cards, prayers, gifts and all who have helped with our personal affairs
and communion services. Thank you for all who stayed with me and sat up
all night to watch over me. Thank you for all who traveled far and near
to be here. Thank you for the men who helped around the farm, the ladies
who helped in the home, and the medical professionals who cared for me."
Your kindness, friendship, and warm regards brought such joy to Doug.
We read the emails to him as they came in. He answered your calls the
best he could. He loved receiving your visits. Doug was overwhelmed
with the outpouring of love he received. He wanted each one to know how
much he appreciated your generosity.
A memorial service for Doug will be held at Welcome Lutheran Church at
6:00 PM, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010. Visitation will precede the memorial
service from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM. The address for Welcome Lutheran
Church is 13636 FM 109, between Brenham and Industry, Texas.
Funeral graveside services will be held in Beaumont, Texas, at Forest
Lawn Cemetery on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010. Visitation will be held there
from 11:00 am to 1:00 PM, with the services to begin at 1:00 PM.
Thank you for your prayers, love and support.
Maurine (Sweetheart) Clower
Grandsons: Michael and Joseph Dyer