CLOWER, CLAUDE DOUGLAS
Name: Claude Douglas Clower
Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy
Unit: Fighter Squadron 151, USS CORAL SEA (CVA 43)
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Beaumont TX
Date of Loss: 19 November 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 204400N 1063900E (XH683896)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Other Personnel in Incident: Walter O Estes (killed in captivity); on
another F4 in same flight: Theodore G. Stier (released POW); James E. Teague
(killed in captivity)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 1990 from one or more of
the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence
with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W.
REMARKS: 730315 RELSD DRV
SYNOPSIS: The USS CORAL SEA participated in combat action against the
Communists as early as August 1964. Aircraft from her squadrons flew in the
first U.S. Navy strikes in the Rolling Thunder Program against targets in
North Vietnam in early 1965 and participated in Flaming Dart I strikes. The
next year, reconnaissance aircraft from her decks returned with the first
photography of Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) sites in North Vietnam. The A1
Skyraider fighter aircraft was retired from the USS CORAL SEA in 1968. The
CORAL SEA participated in Operation Eagle Pull in 1975, evacuating American
personnel from beleaguered Saigon, and remained on station to assist the
crew of the MAYAGUEZ, which was captured by Cambodian forces in 1975. The
attack carriers USS CORAL SEA, USS HANCOCK and USS RANGER formed Task Force
77, the carrier striking force of the U.S. Seventh Fleet in the Western
The F4 Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served a
multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and
electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2),
and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission
type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and
high altitudes. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art
electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing
capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest"
LTJG James E. Teague and LTCDR Claude D. Clower were F4 pilots assigned to
Fighter Squadron 151 onboard the USS CORAL SEA. On November 19, 1967, the
two were launched in F4B Phantom aircraft with their Radar Intercept
Officers (RIO) on a mission near Haiphong, North Vietnam. Teague's RIO was
LTJG Theodore G. Stier, and Clower's RIO was LTJG Walter O Estes. Clower and
Estes were aboard the lead aircraft in the flight section of two aircraft.
They were assigned to protect a strike group being launched from the USS
Teague and Clower proceeded to the assigned target, and while over the
target they were attacked by enemy MiG aircraft. Both aircraft were shot
down. Teague's aircraft was hit first. He began an immediate course change
towards the coast. His aircraft was intact except for small fires burning
around the radome and air conditioning. LTJG Stier was seen to eject, but
Clower did not see another parachute and did not notice if the front canopy
was still on the aircraft. (NOTE: The ejection sequence on the F4 is for the
rear seater to eject first, followed by the pilot in the front.)
All four crewmen were initially placed in Missing in Action casualty status.
Radio Hanoi broadcasts and other information led the Navy to believe that
all four crewmen had survived their shootdown and were captured by the North
Vietnamese. The Vietnamese released the identification cards of Estes, Stier
and Teague. The status of the four was changed to Prisoner of War.
In the spring of 1973, 591 Americans were released in Operation Homecoming
from prisons in and around Hanoi. Stier and Clower were among those
released. During the years of their captivity, Stier had been advanced in
rank to Lieutenant and Clower to the rank of Commander. Estes and Teague had
also been advanced in rank; Estes to Lieutenant Commander and Teague to
Lieutenant. Estes and Teague were not returned in 1973. They were among a
group of hundreds of Americans who were known or suspected to be held
prisoner who were not released at the end of the war. In this case, the
Vietnamese acknowledged the capture of Stier and Clower and denied knowledge
of Estes and Teague, even though an AP wire photo originated by the Vietnam
News Agency (North Vietnam) clearly showed their ID cards with the caption
that they were "captured in Haiphong."
In late September 1970, the remains of James E. Teague and Walter O Estes II
were returned by the Vietnamese to U.S. control. For 10 years, dead or
alive, they had been held prisoner.
For 10 years, the Vietnamese denied knowledge of the fates of Teague and
Estes, even though there was evidence that the two had been captured.
Disturbing testimony was given to Congress in 1980 that the Vietnamese
"stockpiled" the remains of Americans to return at politically advantageous
times. Did Estes and Teague wait, in a casket, for just such a moment?
Even more disturbing are the nearly 10,000 reports received by the U.S.
relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities who have
examined this information (largely classified), have reluctantly come to the
conclusion that many Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia. Were Estes
and Teague alive in captivity after hostilities between the U.S. and Vietnam
Perhaps the most compelling questions when remains are returned are, "Is it
really who they say it is?", and "How -- and when -- did he die?" As long as
reports continue to be received which indicate Americans are still alive in
Indochina, we can only regard the return of remains as a politically
expedient way to show "progress" on accounting for American POW/MIAs. As
long as reports continue to be received, we must wonder how many are alive.
As long as even one American remains alive, held against his will, we must
do everything possible to bring him home -- alive.
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
CLAUDE DOUGLAS CLOWER
Commander - United States Navy
Shot Down: November 19, 1967
Released: March 17, 1973
This poem was written by Commander Clower while in prison.
He composed it for his wife.
The puffy clouds that dot the sky
Their fleeting somber shadows signify
The mood of wives and mothers of the men
They possibly may never see again.
This cruise is different from the one before
For duty calls us to some hostile shore.
I now hear your words of comfort to one
"This duty calls my husband and your son,
We must prepare for any sacrifice
And hope that only duty will suffice.
Your cheerful smile, your poise, your stylish dress
Assurance of your strength to meet this test.
With our most cherished mem'ries within me
The winds of Freedom blew us out to sea.
The years of war require much sacrifice,
And now I too have had to pay this price,
Shot down and captured in a hostile land,
Deprived of all the dreams we once had planned.
Our Ginny has now grown to womanhood,
But I am convinced she has understood
Just why for Freedom's cause I wasn't free,
And why both Mom and Dad you had to be.
All those whose men were missing felt this pain,
But none so much as those who hoped in vain.
Sweetheart, you took it well, I'm proud of you
Our life and love we'll now renew
Though all my love for you will long remain
You know when duty calls I'll go again.
Claude Clower retired from the United States Navy as a Commander. He and
his wife Maurine reside in Texas.
More on Claude Clower's captivity can be found on pages 22 and 161 of
Benjamin Schemmer's "THE RAID." It states:
Periodically, the North Vietnamese would move the senior ranking prisoner
out of Son Tay. It usually happened whenever the "V" were displeased
because prisoners were being obstinate in their interrogation sessions or
caught in a lot of infractions like not bowing to the guards, or
communicating between cells. Julius Jayroe was SRO when Ralph Gaither moved
into Son Tay late in 1968. By the time Mo Baker arrived in December of
1969, Render Crayton was SRO. But the North Vietnamese moved him late that
month or early in January. Marine Corps Major John H. "Howie" Dunn, a
December 1965 shootdown, took over from him, but Dunn was shipped out in May
of 1970. Lieutenant Commander Claude D. "Doug" Clower, a prisoner since
mid-November 1967, then took over as the senior American in Son Tay Prison.
Like all SROS, Clower had the prisoners tabulate and keep current a mental
"data bank" of every American any prisoner had seen alive on North
Vietnamese soil. By May of 1970, there were about 370 names on the
"corporate" list. Mo Baker had 357 of them in his data bank. And Clower
kept encouraging the men to pass on every shred of information they could
garner on the lay of the land outside those compound walls.
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