Henry P. Fowler served the Air Force for 27 years as an F-4 Pilot and Judge Advocate. He participated in combat operations in Vietnam and served as the Maxwell Air Force Base Staff Judge Advocate. Colonel Fowler enlisted in the United States Navy in 1961. Upon graduation from George Washington University, he graduated from Officer Training School in 1965 as a Distinguished Graduate. He completed pilot training at Williams Air Force Base and completed F-4 Phantom II Combat Crew Training in 1966. His first assignment was with the 8th Fighter Wing, 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, “Satan’s Angels,” based at Ubon Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand. On Easter Sunday, 26 March 1967, Lieutenant Fowler and three other F-4Cs were scrambled from Ubon in support of 90 F-105 Thunderchiefs on a strike mission over Hanoi. After the strike, his flight identified four North Vietnamese MiG-21 fighters approaching the formation. He directed his flight to drop their external fuel tanks and pursue the MiGs at tree-top level. Without warning, the MiGs broke off the attack and Lieutenant Fowler’s flight was immediately subjected to a withering barrage of SA-2 surface-to-air missiles. Since he was recovering from the MiG attack, Lieutenant Fowler’s aircraft lacked the speed and altitude to perform evasive maneuvers. He saw two missiles streak over his right wing and strike his aircraft. Surrounded by fire and smoke, Lieutenant Fowler was forced to eject from his crippled aircraft at over 250 miles per hour. He suffered a compression fracture of his spine and landed 24 miles from Hanoi. He was captured within 10 minutes and stripped of all of his clothing. His arms were bound and he was forcibly walked for the next eight hours through multiple villages, where he was hanged and stoned. He was driven another four hours to the Hanoi Hilton, where he remained in captivity for 2,157 days. He was released on 18 February 1973 during Operation Homecoming. After recovering from his injuries, he completed C-141 Starlifter transition training and later served as a pilot with the 86th Military Airlift Squadron at Travis Air Force Base. In 1975, Major Fowler received an Air Force Institute of Technology assignment to complete his law degree at Samford University, graduating in 1978. His served as a Staff Judge Advocate in various positions and as a Judge Advocate General School Instructor at Maxwell Air Force Base until July 1984. Lieutenant Colonel Fowler served as Deputy Staff Judge Advocate at Ramstein Air Base from July 1984 to July 1987 and as Staff Judge Advocate at Offutt Air Force Base from July 1987 to July 1989. Colonel Fowler’s final assignment was as Staff Judge Advocate at Maxwell Air Force Base from July 1989 until his retirement in 1991.
Years Honored: 2012
Aircraft/Specialty: F-4C Phantom
26 March 1967, Lt Col Fred Crow and Lt Henry Fowler pull up to avoid two SA-2 surface-to-air missiles after providing MiG combat air patrol during a strike against the Son Tay Army Supply Area RP-V. One missile struck their left wing, forcing their ejection and subsequent capture. He remained in captivity in North Vietnam for 2,157 days, having been released on 18 February 1973. During his service, he was awarded two Silver Stars, two Legions of Merit, the Bronze Star with Valor, two Purple Hearts, the Prisoner of War Medal, and three Air Medals.