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Brig Gen. John C. Rowland, USA, Retired

John C. Rowland


Born in Virginia on February 15, 1941, Brigadier General John C. Rowland and his family moved to Monroe, Michigan in 1944. After graduation in 1959, he received a Board of Regents Scholarship to attend Eastern Michigan University.

Rowland was commissioned as an infantry officer in August, 1965 after graduating from Eastern Michigan University and competition of R.O.T.C. He entered active duty in October, 1965 and completed the Infantry Officers Basic Course (OBC) at Fort Benning, Georgia, then graduated from flight school in September of 1966.

After flight school he was transferred to the 1st Cavalry Division, Republic of Vietnam where he served as a pilot, section leader, platoon leader and S2 of the 227th Aviation Battalion. While in Vietnam, he flew 839 hours of combat time, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and 32 Air Medals.

After Vietnam, he was transferred to Forth Wolters, Texas and served as a flight instructor until January of 1969 when he was released from active duty. After this, Rowland transferred to the U.S. Army Reserve. In February of 1972 he joined the Michigan Army National Guard as a part-time helicopter pilot.

Returning to civilian life, he worked as a sales engineer and general manager for two automotive suppliers in the Detroit area. He then purchased a small flight school, Wolverine Aviation Inc. at Willow Run Airport. He sold that business in 1974 when Rowland accepted a full time position with the Michigan Army National Guard in Grand Ledge, Michigan. While working at the Army Aviation Support Facility, Rowland served as a flight instructor, Operations Officer, Facility Commander and State Aviation Officer.

He then took a job with Spartan Motors as Director of International Operations. While serving in this capacity, he supervised the company's operations in Mexico. Rowland retired from Spartan Motors in 1994.

Rowland is a dual-rated Master Army Aviator with over 9,700 hours of flight time. He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1994 as the Deputy Commander, Maneuver, for the 38th Infantry Division (M). in this assignment he was responsible for the tactical training and deployment of over 15,000 combat soldiers.

Other military decorations include the Legion of Merit, two Meritorious Service Medals, two Army Commendation Medals, Army Achievement Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal and other service medals. In 1997 he was honored by being inducted into the Eastern Michigan R.O.T.C. Hall of Fame.

On July 23, 1997 Rowland received Senate confirmation for promotion of the rank of Major General. He retired in October of 1997 and transferred to the Inactive Army Reserve. He is a long time director and past President of Michigan's Freedom Foundation and is a past president of the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.

Rowland and his wife Judy have been married over 50 years and live in Grand Ledge, Michigan. Brigadier General John C. Rowland was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 2, 2005.

Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program