CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – In a May 2 building dedication ceremony at Rivanna Station, Va., leaders and members from the defense intelligence community gathered to honor the late Col. James Nicholas Rowe.
Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, DIA senior executive at Rivanna Station Thomas G. Francis III and Rowe’s eldest son Stephen “Alex” Rowe provided remarks to honor the occasion. The event also welcomed distinguished guests from the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, Virginia congressional delegation representatives, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Belvoir, Intelligence Community and mission partners, and members of the greater Charlottesville community.
Rowe was a 1960 graduate of the United States Military Academy. During a tour in the Republic of South Vietnam, he was captured in October 1963 and held as a prisoner of war for more than five years before his dramatic escape and rescue by U.S. helicopter gunships. Then a major, he left the Army and returned as a lieutenant colonel to develop the Army’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) course, which is still in use today. After leaving Fort Bragg, N.C., Rowe was assigned as Ground Forces Director, Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group, in the Philippines, where he provided counterinsurgency training for the Philippine Armed Forces and became involved in the decade-long program to penetrate the New People’s Army—the communist insurgency that threatened the Philippine government. His effectiveness led to his assassination by the insurgents April 21, 1989, while on his way to work.
“We are here today to honor a man who has left an indelible mark on our military and who is a constant inspiration to the brave men and women of our armed forces who are asked, every day, to do the impossible – and who, every day, step up to the challenge,” said Flynn.
In dedicating the Col. James N. Rowe building, Flynn described how Rowe symbolizes the ideal we must work toward as an agency and personifies the courage and commitment that the DIA workforce must use as the standard for everything it does. “As both an intelligence and Special Forces professional, Col. Nick Rowe embodies the future of our work at DIA – one where intelligence and operations are closely fused and inextricably linked,” said Flynn. “Special Operations elements are now involved in almost every military action in almost every corner of the planet, and DIA’s support – in analysis, collection and S&T – provides a vital foundation for their plans and decision-making.”
Rowe’s distinguished service to the nation was characterized by his unwavering devotion to duty, a high sense of honor and courage, and a deep love of his country. He embodied teamwork, integrity, excellence and service – the core values of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
As a student in Rowe’s SERE training course, Francis spoke of Rowe’s unwavering devotion to duty, his high sense of honor and courage and a deep love of his country. “It was hard for me to understand why someone who had left the military after all that he had been through would come back to active duty – he said it was to develop this course and prepare others.”
Alex Rowe spoke of his father’s love for his job, those with whom he worked and of his country. “Although he was killed when I was only 2, I learn more about him from those who knew him best.” He said that he learned stories “of his life as a West Point cadet, the camaraderie he shared with his peers, his love of his country and his family and his desire to bring freedom and justice to all nations. These are the things that I hold dearest as his son. I seek to honor his memory, as we all should, by emulating these very ideals and remembering to live a life of selfless sacrifice.”
In closing his remarks, Flynn stated, “I hope that this facility lives up to the incredible legacy of its namesake and makes just as much of an impact on the warfighters it supports. I have no doubt that the men and women in this building have the dedication, talent, and skills necessary to live up to Col. Rowe’s example.”
DIA relocated nearly 800 of its personnel to Rivannna Station in 2010 under Base Realignment and Closure legislation. The complex serves as a conduit for collaboration among the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the National Ground Intelligence Center.