Peter Rowell

SOUTH PARIS — Peter Rowell was named Veteran of the Month for January at the Maine Veterans’ Homes — South Paris.

Rowell was fresh out of Traip Academy in Kittery when he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1959. The New Hampshire native barely had time to change his cap and gown before he signed up to serve the country. His service extended until August 1967, taking him many places, including South Carolina, California, Hawaii, France, Italy, Greece, Japan and Vietnam.

He spent 14 months in Vietnam as a section leader of the 60mm mortars of B Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. During Operation Colorado, Rowell’s unit was conducting a mission in the vicinity of Tam Ky and became involved in the rescue of a pinned-down Marine squad. While moving against heavy machine gun fire, he made three trips to evacuate wounded Marines and provided cover for other evacuations.

During one of the three trips, Rowell was wounded in the face by a grenade blast. When a subsequent enemy mortar attack began, he moved his mortar squad into position and again exposed himself to enemy fire to adjust his mortar fire. Finally, the enemy was forced to withdraw. Only after the attack was finished would Rowell submit to evacuation.

He received the Purple Heart and the Navy Commendation Medal (with a “V,” denoting combat bravery) for his actions. Less than a year later, on April 25, 1967, while leading another mission, Rowell was wounded on his left side by a mine blast. It caused severe injuries to his left shoulder, neck and face, resulting in the loss of his left eye. Rowell received a Gold Star in lieu of his second Purple Heart for his combat injuries. He also received the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, medals for Vietnam service and the Vietnam War.

After leaving the military in 1967, Rowell served as a security officer with the Department of Defense at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. For 10 years he specialized in law enforcement at the shipyard and oversaw the protection of nuclear reactors as they were replaced in submarines.

After retirement, he had more time to watch his New England sports teams, especially the Patriots. He also had time to hunt and fish. One of Rowell’s lifelong loves is the Chevrolet Corvette — he had three after his military service.

Rowell has one son, Peter Jr.

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