Robert L. Howard
|Robert L. Howard|
|July 11, 1939(1939-07-11) – December 23, 2009(2009-12-23) (aged 70)|
Colonel Robert L. Howard
|Place of birth||Opelika, Alabama|
|Place of death||Waco, Texas|
|Resting place||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1956–1992|
|Unit||Army Special Forces MACV-SOG|
|Awards||Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross (2)
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit (4)
Bronze Star (4)
Purple Heart (8)
|Other work||Employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs|
Robert Lewis Howard (July 11, 1939 – December 23, 2009) was a highly decorated United States Army soldier and Medal of Honor recipient of the Vietnam War. He was wounded 14 times over 54 months of combat, was awarded 8 Purple Hearts, 4 Bronze Stars, and was nominated for the Medal of Honor three separate times. He was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on February 22, 2010.
As a staff sergeant of the highly-classified Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG), Howard was recommended for the Medal of Honor on three separate occasions for three individual actions during thirteen months spanning 1967–1968. The first two nominations were downgraded to a Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross due to the covert nature of the operations in which Howard participated. As a Sergeant First Class of the same organization, he risked his life during a rescue mission in Cambodia on December 30, 1968, while second in command of a platoon-sized Hornet force that was searching for missing American soldier Robert Scherdin, and was finally awarded the Medal of Honor. He learned of the award over a two-way radio while under enemy fire, immediately after being wounded, resulting in one of his eight Purple Hearts.
Howard was wounded 14 times during one 54-month period during the Vietnam War. He received two Masters degrees during his government career which spanned almost 50 years. Howard retired as a full Colonel in 1992. His Army career spanned 1956 to 1992.
According to NBC News, Howard may have been the most highly-decorated American soldier since World War II. His residence was in Texas and he spent much of his free time working with veterans at the time of his death. He also took periodic trips to Iraq to visit active duty troops.
Howard died of pancreatic cancer at a hospice in Waco, Texas on December 23, 2009. He was survived by four children and four grandchildren. His funeral was in Arlington National Cemetery on 22 February 2010.
 Medal of Honor citation
ROBERT L. HOWARD
UNITED STATES ARMY
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Howard (then Sfc .), distinguished himself while serving as platoon sergeant of an American-Vietnamese platoon which was on a mission to rescue a missing American soldier in enemy controlled territory in the Republic of Vietnam. The platoon had left its helicopter landing zone and was moving out on its mission when it was attacked by an estimated 2-company force. During the initial engagement, 1st Lt. Howard was wounded and his weapon destroyed by a grenade explosion. 1st Lt. Howard saw his platoon leader had been wounded seriously and was exposed to fire. Although unable to walk, and weaponless, 1st Lt. Howard unhesitatingly crawled through a hail of fire to retrieve his wounded leader. As 1st Lt. Howard was administering first aid and removing the officer's equipment, an enemy bullet struck 1 of the ammunition pouches on the lieutenant's belt, detonating several magazines of ammunition. 1st Lt. Howard momentarily sought cover and then realizing that he must rejoin the platoon, which had been disorganized by the enemy attack, he again began dragging the seriously wounded officer toward the platoon area. Through his outstanding example of indomitable courage and bravery, 1st Lt. Howard was able to rally the platoon into an organized defense force. With complete disregard for his safety, 1st Lt. Howard crawled from position to position, administering first aid to the wounded, giving encouragement to the defenders and directing their fire on the encircling enemy. For 3 1/2 hours 1st Lt. Howard's small force and supporting aircraft successfully repulsed enemy attacks and finally were in sufficient control to permit the landing of rescue helicopters. 1st Lt. Howard personally supervised the loading of his men and did not leave the bullet-swept landing zone until all were aboard safely. 1st Lt. Howard's gallantry in action, his complete devotion to the welfare of his men at the risk of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
 Awards and decorations
|Medal of Honor|
|Distinguished Service Cross (with one oak leaf cluster) (2 awards)|
|Legion of Merit (with three oak leaf clusters) (4 awards)|
|Bronze Star (with three oak leaf clusters and "V" device) (4 awards)|
|Purple Heart (with a silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters) (8 awards)|
|Meritorious Service Medal (with two oak leaf clusters) (3 awards)|
|Air Medal (with "V" Device and numeral 3. One award for heroism and two for aerial achievement)|
|Joint Service Commendation|
|Army Commendation Medal (with "V" device and one each silver and bronze oak leaf clusters. 4 awards for valor and 3 for achievement)|
|Joint Service Achievement|
- Good Conduct Medal with four Good Conduct Loops (4 awards)
- National Defense Service Medal
- Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with three service stars (3 awards)
- Vietnam Service Medal with 3 service stars (3 campaigns)
- Armed Forces Reserve Medal
- NCO Professional Development Ribbon with 2 device
- Army Service Ribbon
- Army Overseas Service Ribbon
 Unit citations
- Presidential Unit Citation (Army) with oak leaf cluster (2 awards)
- Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army)
- Navy Unit Commendation
- Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry Unit Citation with Palm (Unit citation)
- Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Unit Citation with Palm (Unit citation)
 Foreign decorations
- Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star (Corps citation), Silver Star (Division citation) and Bronze Star (Regiment/Brigade citation)
- Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal, 1st Class
- Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Medal, 1st Class
- Republic of Vietnam Wound Medal
- Republic of Vietnam Staff Service Medal, 2nd Class
- Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960 bar
- Republic of Korea Order of National Security Merit (Sam-Il Medal)
 Badges, qualifications and tabs
- Ranger Tab
- Special Forces Tab
- Combat Infantryman Badge
- Expert Infantryman's Badge
- Aircrew Badge
- Master Parachutist Badge
- Pathfinder Badge
- Air Assault Badge
- Expert Marksmanship Badge
- Vietnamese Ranger Badge
- Vietnamese Master Parachute Badge
- Thai Master Parachute Wings
- Korean Master Parachute Badge
- Thai Balloonist Badge
- French Parachutist Badge
 See also
- ^ Eberle, Lance Cpl. Ben (November 19, 2006). "Medal of Honor recipients make special visit". http://www.marines.mil/unit/hqmc/Pages/2006/Medal%20of%20Honor%20recipients%20make%20special%20visit.aspx. Retrieved 2010-02-24.
- ^ a b Williams, Brian, "Medal of Honor: Robert Howard 1939-2009", NBC News, December 23, 2009.
- ^ a b Associated Press, "Decorated Army colonel, MoH recipient dies", Military Times, December 24, 2009.
- ^ Brian Williams Marks Passing of Most Decorated Modern War Hero, Colonel Robert Howard
- ^ Col. Robert Lewis Howard, believed to be nation's most decorated soldier, dies at 70 Star-Telegram, Associated Press story. Retrieved on December 24, 2009.
 Further reading
- SOG: The Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam, by John Plaster
- Secret Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines with the Elite Warriors of SOG, by John Plaster
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Robert L. Howard|
- "Private Page". http://rlhtribute.com/. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
- "Presentation of the Medal of Honor". http://homeofheroes.com/moh/citations_living/vn_a_howard.html. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
- "Interview at the Pritzker Military Library". http://www.pritzkermilitarylibrary.org/events/2006-07-27-roberthoward.jsp. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
- "Obituary and Online Guest Book at OakCrest Funeral Home, Waco, Texas". http://www.oakcrestwaco.com/content/obituaries/view.jsp?OID=54294. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
- Web site dedicated to COL Howard (MOH) http://www.rlhtribute.com , by 1SG Joseph J Welsh USA (Ret)
|Name||Howard, Robert L.|
|Short description||United States Army Medal of Honor recipient|
|Date of birth||July 11, 1939|
|Place of birth||Opelika, Alabama|
|Date of death||December 23, 2009|
|Place of death||Waco, Texas|