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Thomas Bowman - Vietnam War

Tom Bowman, from Springfield, Illinois, was drafted into the Army in May 1968. Following Basic Training he received additional training as a Medical Records Specialist. He arrived in South Vietnam in December 1968 and was assigned to the 44th Medical Brigade, which was headquartered at Nha Trang. He performed a variety of tasks including assisting in triage, ambulance driver, accompanying teams going to the field on MEDCAPs (Medical Civil Action Program), and escorting psychiatric patients. He worked in the 6th Convalescent Hospital in Cam Ranh Bay when it was attacked by Viet Cong sappers. Bowman discusses his tour in detail, including R & Rs, and his return to the U.S. in December 1968.  ​

Interview Links

Feature Excerpt

Flight Back Home

Abstract

Interview Session 01 (Audio)

Growing up in Springfield, IL, military training and service in Vietnam

Interview Session 02 (Audio)

Reflections on service in Vietnam, and return to the U.S.


Photos

Caption

Tom Bowman received this “Order to Report for Induction,” his draft notice, from the Selective Service System in March, 1968.

Where:

Unknown

When:

March, 1968

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain

Caption

Tom Bowman’s meal card and rifle card, which were issued to him while in basic Training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri in the spring of 1968.

Where:

Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri

When:

Spring of 1968

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Tom Bowman, on the right, with several Basic Training buddies while at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. Tom is wearing a temporary rank brassard. He was older than most of the other recruits.

Where:

Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri

When:

1968

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The Basic Training barracks at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri during the time Tom Bowman was training there.

Where:

Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri

When:

1968

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Tom Bowman and a buddy enjoy a rare moment of down-time during their Basic Training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri in the summer of 1968.

Where:

Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri

When:

Summer of 1968

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The streets of Nha Trang were usually busy while the 44th Medical Brigade was based there in 1969.

Where:

Nha Trang, Vietnam

When:

1969

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The marketplace in downtown Vung Tau, South Vietnam. The city served as an in-country R & R Center during the war. Tom’s caption for the photo reads “About a mile of nothing but garbage.”

Where:

Vung Tau, South Vietnam

When:

1969

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Tom Bowman wakes up after sleeping on his bunk while stationed at the 6th Convalescent Center at Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam in early 1969.

Where:

Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam

When:

Early 1969

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Tom Bowman takes a break on a wall of sandbags at the 6th Convalescent Center at Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam in February 3, 1969.

Where:

Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam

When:

February 3, 1969

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Tom Bowman stands outside the 6th Convalescent Center triage area on February 7, 1969. This is where ambulances, and am-buses from the field dropped off casualties.

Where:

Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam

When:

February 7, 1969

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

An aerial view of 6th Convalescent Center at Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam. Tom took the picture from a helicopter while returning from the field.

Where:

Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam

When:

1969

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Mike Banet, Tom Bowman and John Ribek unwind in their barracks at night in May, 1969. Bowman was stationed at Cam Ranh Bay at the time.

Where:

Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam

When:

May, 1969

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Tom stands on a street in Nha Trang, South Vietnam in June 1969. The 44th Medical Brigade Headquarters was based there.

Where:

Nha Trang, South Vietnam

When:

June 1969

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Charlie DeBotta, Mac (last name unknown) and Mike Banet are riding in the back of truck on their way to Tiger Lake, outside Cam Ranh Bay in July, 1969. Tom’s caption reads “Charlie said, ‘Why wait till we get to the lake.’”

Where:

Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam

When:

July, 1969

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The 6th Convalescent Center at Cam Ranh Bay was attacked by Viet Cong sappers on August 8, 1969. Ward “A,” at the north end of the compound, sustained heavy damage. The ward was filled with patients at the time of this well-planned attack.

Where:

Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam

When:

August 8, 1969

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Tom Bowman sent photos to his fiancé, Sharon Bartholomew, usually with captions scribbled on the back. He sent this one to her in August, 1969, with “Guess who he’s dreaming of” written on the back.

Where:

Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam

When:

August, 1969

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Tom Bowman spotted this Shell station in downtown Saigon in September, 1969. It immediately brought back memories of home.

Where:

Saigon

When:

September, 1969

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The front gate to the Welcome Center at Vung Tau, which served as the in-country  R & R center. Bowman got a chance to visit the facility in September, 1969.

Where:

Vung Tau, South Vietnam

When:

September, 1969

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Tom Bowman gets his picture taken in September, 1969, with the R & R center of Vung Tau, South Vietnam in the background.

Where:

Vung Tau, South Vietnam

When:

September, 1969

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Bowman was on R & R in Thailand heading up-river toward a Buddhist mission when he took this photo in December, 1969. A local woman brought soup and other food out to the tour boat. The conditions were less than sanitary.

Where:

Thailand

When:

December, 1969

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

USO shows were frequent visitors to the military hospitals in South Vietnam. Tom Bowman attended this one while the show performed at the 6th Convalescent Hospital at Cam Ranh Bay in late 1969.

Where:

Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam

When:

Late 1969

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo



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