Mad Dog McDow (Rick McDow)

Meet Colonel (Retired) “Mad Dog” Rick McDow, United States Air Force.

This southern gentleman and Tuscaloosa grad (ROLL TIDE!) had dreams of becoming a military aviator, having heard stories from his uncle who flew jets during the Korean War.   

Amidst the backdrop of Vietnam, Rick joined the Air Force and was a “90 day wonder” graduating from Officer Training School (OTS) out of Lackland Air Force Base in the balmy Spring of 1970. 

“Slightly” poor eyesight thwarted Rick’s dream of becoming a pilot.  So he chose the next best thing, becoming a “back-seater” in the F-4 Phantom II as a navigator.  

In 1972, Rick left his young wife Beverly and deployed with the 390th Tactical Fighter Squadron to Da Nang, South Vietnam and Thailand.

On June 27th, while a member of Valent 03 air crew, 24 year-old Rick McDow and his pilot were hit by a surface to air missile in the skies above North Vietnam.  Rick was forced to eject above enemy territory.  Injured, Rick was captured by the North Vietnamese and became a Prisoner of War.  

Based on initial reports, Rick’s wife, stateside, was told her husband had been killed.  Weeks later she would learn that Rick was very much alive and in captivity. Bev endured her own kind of hell in those weeks.

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