Col. James Nicholas Rowe, military officer and Vietnam war hero, the son of Lee Delavan and Florence (Survillo) Rowe, was born in McAllen, Texas, on February 8, 1938. He grew up in McAllen and graduated from McAllen High School in 1956. He then attended West Point and graduated in 1960.
He was taken and kept prisoner in the U Minh Forest, better known as the "Forest of Darkness," in extreme southern Vietnam. During most of his five years in captivity Rowe was held in a cage. He managed to escape on New Year's Eve, 1968, after overpowering his guard, and eleven days later he was picked up by a United States Cobra helicopter.
In 1981 he returned to military service as a lieutenant colonel to become chief of Green Beret training at Fort Bragg. In 1985 he was placed in command of Fort Bragg's First Special Warfare Training Battalion, a position he held until 1987, when he was made chief of the Army Division at the Joint United States Military Advisory Group headquarters in Quezon City, Philippines. On April 21, 1989, on his way to work, Rowe was killed in an ambush.
During his lifetime Rowe received the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts, the Meritorious Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation. His nonmilitary awards included the American Patriot Award of Freedom's Foundation of Valley Forge (1969), the Outstanding Young Man of America award, the George Washington Honor Medal of Freedom's Foundation of Valley Forge (1974), and the Legion of Honor, International Supreme Council of the Order of DeMolay.
In 1989 the city of McAllen honored Colonel Rowe by renaming Second Street for him. In 1990, Nikki Rowe High School was established as a ninth grade center and in 1992 became a class 5A high school.
Courtesy of: Texas State Historical Association