Highly Decorated Vietnam Hero Gets Final Honors
(February 25, 2010)
Robert L. Howard
Medal of Honor Recipient
||WASHINGTON (ARNEWS, Feb. 22, 2010) -- One of America's most
decorated Soldiers, Col. Robert L. Howard, was laid to rest
Feb. 22 in Arlington National Cemetery, after having served
his country for nearly half a century.
Howard enlisted in the Army in 1956, at only 17 years old.
His service included time with the 82nd and 101st Airborne
Divisions; 2nd Ranger Battalion; 3rd, 5th, and 6th Special
Forces Group; 5th Infantry Division; 7th Corps and XVIII
Airborne Corps. He also served in the Eighth United States
Army and Combined Forces Command.
Howard served five tours in Vietnam -- and claimsed a total
of 58 months in combat.
While a noncommissioned officer, Howard served
as a demolitions sergeant. And with Special
Forces, he served the majority of his time with
Military Assistance Command, Vietnam - Studies
and Observations Group.
In December 1969, then-Master Sgt. Robert L. Howard was
commissioned to first lieutenant.|
While serving in Vietnam, Howard was wounded 14 times.
Between 1968 and 1969, he was put in for three Medals of
Honor. He was awarded one of those in 1971, by President
Richard M. Nixon.
It was for his actions while serving as a platoon sergeant
in Vietnam that Howard was nominated for and ultimately
received the Medal of Honor. On Dec. 30, 1968, Howard's unit
was on a mission to rescue an American Soldier who was
missing in enemy territory. After his platoon left their
helicopter landing zone, they were attacked by enemy
combatants. Howard himself was wounded and his weapon was
destroyed. Howard saw his platoon leader, a first
lieutenant, was also wounded and exposed to enemy fire.
"Although unable to walk, and weaponless, ... Howard
unhesitatingly crawled through a hail of fire to retrieve
his wounded leader," reads the Medal of Honor citation.
While administering first aid to his platoon leader, an
enemy bullet struck one of the lieutenant's ammunition
pouches, detonating several magazines of ammunition.
"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," the citation continues.
Howard was able to rally his platoon and get them
reorganized, the citation said. At risk to himself, Howard
crawled from position to position and administered first aid
to those who needed it. He also led his platoon in staving
off enemy attacks for three and a half hours until it was
possible to permit the landing of rescue helicopters.
During his time in service, Howard earned the Distinguished
Service Cross, a Silver Star, four Bronze Stars for Valor,
eight Purple Hearts, the Defense Superior Service Medal,
four Legion's of Merit and a Bronze Star for Meritorious
|Fellow Soldiers pay their respects to Medal of Honor recipient Col. Robert L. Howard, who was buried Feb 22 in Section 7A of Arlington National Cemetery. Forteen Medal of Honor recipients and other heroes are buried in that section Howard was one of the most highly decorated Soldiers in Vietnam. Photo
by Alex McVeigh
Following 36 years on active duty, Howard retired from
military service, though he continued to serve Soldiers,
Sailors, Airmen and Marines by working with the Department
of Veterans Affairs for more than a dozen year.|
Howard died Dec. 23, in Waco, Texas, of pancreatic cancer.
He was 70. He is survived by four children: Melissa Gentsch,
Denicia Howard, Roslyn Howard and Sgt. Robert L. Howard Jr.
Howard also has four grandchildren.
By Alex McVeigh, Pentagram, and
C. Todd Lopez, ARNEWS
Army News Service / Army website
Comment on this article