Lieutenant Colonel Everett Rowles enlisted in the Army in 1968 as an Ear, Nose, and Throat Technician. Because he was also qualified as a Combat Medic, he was sent to Vietnam in March 1969 and assigned to the 5th/46th Infantry, Americal Division.
After being in country just six weeks, on 1 May, Rowles found himself with two platoons under intense enemy fire and taking casualties. As he moved through the platoons treating the wounded, it became apparent that they were in the middle of a minefield. With complete disregard for his own safety, he continued to move from casualty to casualty. As Rowles treated the wounded men, a Soldier detonated an enemy booby trap and badly wounded several more men to include Rowles. Despite mines all around him, Rowles immediately moved to the men and administered life-saving treatment. For these actions, which saved the lives of several comrades, he received a Bronze Star Medal with “V” device for valor.
On 24 May, while working with a team of 68 men, Rowles’ team was sent up against 400 North Vietnamese Army soldiers who were dug into underground bunkers. During the battle, the NVA wounded 23 members of the team, including Rowles, with intense mortar and small arms fire. Two men were killed in action, but Rowles’ skill, tenacity, and courage helped saved the rest. His only comment for that event was, “It was a bad day.”
He was wounded with shrapnel in October during a sapper attack. This earned Rowles a Purple Heart. During his tour he survived three helicopter crashes, getting shot twice, hit with shrapnel four times and stabbed once. He said that he would have received five Purple Hearts if he had been better at filing paperwork. He said he was motivated to take those risks by thinking of the families of those Soldiers back home. He wanted to get those young men back to their families.
LTC Rowles received a direct commission in 1979 and served as the Commander of the 48th Medical Detachment. In 1981, he left active duty for the active reserves where he served in many assignments including the Administrator of the Madigan Army Medical Center – Madigan Cancer Institute, and Medical Operations Officer for the 96th Reserve Support Command in Salt Lake City. Before retiring in 1999, Rowles received many decorations including the Legion of Merit, four Meritorious Service Medals and Seven Army Commendation Medals. When asked how he was so successful in each assignment, he responded, “It’s because of good people. Good people doing a good job.”