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Robert L. Howard
July 11, 1939(1939-07-11) – December 23, 2009 (aged 70)
Col howard.jpg Cmoh army.jpg
COL Robert L. Howard
Place of birth Opelika, Alabama
Place of death Waco, Texas
Allegiance United States of America United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1956–1992
Rank Colonel
Unit Army Special Forces MACV-SOG
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross (2)
Silver Star
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit (4)
Bronze Star (4)
Purple Heart (8)
Other work Employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs
Col. Robert L. Howard (center), Capt. John J. McGinty, III (left) and CSM Gary L. Littrell (right) at Camp Taqaddum, Iraq on November 11, 2006.

Robert L. Howard (July 11, 1939, Opelika, Alabama – December 23, 2009, Waco, Texas) was a highly decorated Enlisted Soldier later promoted to Officer in the United States Army and Medal of Honor recipient of the Vietnam War.



He enlisted in the Army at Montgomery, Alabama and retired as Colonel.

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 the award of 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.

Howard was wounded 14 times during one 54-month period during the Vietnam Conflict. He received two Masters degrees during his government career which spanned almost 50 years. Howard retired as a full Colonel in 2006.[1] His Army career spanned 1956 to 1992.[2]

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.[3][4]

Howard died of pancreatic cancer at a hospice in Waco, Texas on December 23, 2009. He was survived by three children and four grandchildren.[5][6]

Medal of Honor citation

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to



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 ribbon.svg Medal of Honor
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Service Cross ribbon.svg
Distinguished Service Cross (with one oak leaf cluster) (2 awards)
Silver Star ribbon-3d.svg Silver Star
US Defense Superior Service Medal ribbon.svg Defense Superior Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg
Legion of Merit (with three oak leaf clusters) (4 awards)
Valor device
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star ribbon.svg
Bronze Star (with three oak leaf clusters and "V" device) (4 awards)
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Purple Heart BAR.svg
Purple Heart (with a silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters) (8 awards)
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service ribbon.svg
Meritorious Service Medal (with two oak leaf clusters) (3 awards)
Valor device
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Medal ribbon.svg
Air Medal (with "V" Device and numeral 3. One award for heroism and two for aerial achievement)
Joint Service Commendation ribbon.svg Joint Service Commendation
Valor device
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg
Army Commendation Medal (with "V" device and one each silver and bronze oak leaf clusters. 4 awards for valor and 3 for achievement)
Us jointservachiev rib.svg Joint Service Achievement
Army Achievement Medal ribbon.svg Army Achievement

Unit citations

Foreign decorations

Badges, qualifications and tabs

US Army Special Forces SSI.png
SF RI.gif

See also


  1. ^ Williams, Brian, "Medal Of Honor: Robert Howard 1939-2009", NBC News, December 29, 2009.
  2. ^ Associated Press, "Decorated Army colonel, MoH recipient dies", Military Times, December 24, 2009.
  3. ^ Brian Williams Marks Passing of Most Decorated Modern War Hero, Colonel Robert Howard
  4. ^ Williams, Brian, "Medal Of Honor: Robert Howard 1939-2009", NBC News, December 29, 2009.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Associated Press, "Decorated Army colonel, MoH recipient dies", Military Times, December 24, 2009.

External links


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