Rowland, former Army Aviation Facility Commander and State Aviation Officer is the first helicopter pilot to be enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame. Rowland was born in Ewing, Va. to Galvin and Edith (Robinson) Rowland. His family moved to Monroe, Mich. in 1944.
Rowland was commissioned as an infantry officer in August of 1965 after graduating from Eastern Michigan University and completion of ROTC. He entered active duty in October of 1965 and completed the Infantry Officers Basic Course at Ft. Benning Georgia. After OBC he was selected for the Army's rotary wing flight training program and graduated from flight school in September of 1966. After flight school he was transferred to the Ist Cavalry Division Republic of Vietnam. In Vietnam, 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 Fort Wolters, Texas and served as a flight instructor. He served as flight instructor teaching advanced flight training until January of 1969 when he was released from active duty. After release from active duty BG Rowland was transferred to the U.S. Army Reserve. In February of 1972, Rowland 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. Seeking a new challenge, he purchased a small flight school, Wolverine Aviation Inc. at Willow Run Airport. John and Judy grew the business to where they were operating 16 aircraft and had 88 VA student pilots. They sold the business in 1974 when John accepted a full time position with the Michigan Army National Guard, Grand Ledge, Mich. While working at the Army Aviation Support Facility, General Rowland served as a flight instructor, Operations Officer, Facility Commander and State Aviation Officer. During his tenure he supervised 110 full time employees, the training of 120 Army Aviators and the maintenance of 64 aircraft.
He was promoted out of his full time position in 1994 and took a job with Spartan Motors, as Director of International Operations. While serving in this capacity he supervised the company's Mexican operation and traveled extensively to Central/South America and Europe. John retired and left Spartan Motors in 1994.
Rowland is a dual rated Master Army Aviator with over 9700 hours of Flight time. He has commanded at all levels to include, two aviation Companies, two aviation battalions and Michigan's largest brigade, the 72nd Support Brigade. 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. General Rowland was key to the division's successful completion of the comprehensive War fighter exercise at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.
His military schooling includes completion of Infantry Officer Basic Course, Infantry Officer Advanced Course, Initial Rotary Wing Qualification Course, Flight Instructor Course, Fixed Wing Multi-engine Course and Command and General Staff College. 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 General Rowland was honored by being inducted into the Eastern Michigan R.O.T.C. Hall of Fame
On July 23,1997 BG Rowland was recommended by the president and received senate confirmation for promotion to the rank of major general. He retired in October of 1997 due to a state three-year general officer policy and transferred to the Inactive Army Reserve.
He is a long time Director and past President of Michigan's Freedom Foundation.
Rowland and his wife Judy have been married 43 years and have three children plus five grandchildren. The Rowland's live in Grand Ledge, Mich. where they have resided for the past 31 years.