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Thread: One of America's Greatest Heroes Has Passed

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    Regular Member ODA 226's Avatar
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    Col. Howardis a Special Forces Legend. I had the honor to have him as the CO of Camp MacKall when I went through Special Forces School in 1978. He was the bravest man I've ever met. God Bless and Keep You Sir!

    “I’m that Baddest MFing Airborne, Ranger, Green Beret any of you will ever meet, I could jump down there and kill half of you…… the other half of you will kill yourselves trying to get away from me. Welcome to Special Forces Training….. Now get on the Fing buss”


    Maj.Bob Howard to SF Candidates on their way to Camp MacKall for the SF Qualification Course.



    December 23, 2009) - Retired Army Colonel Robert L. Howard, 70, who died Wednesday in Waco, Texas, was a Medal of Honor recipient who at the time of his death was believed to be the most-decorated living American soldier.


    Howard will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

    Services were pending Wednesday through Oak Crest Funeral Home in Waco.

    Texas Governor Rick Perry issued a statement late Wednesday afternoon in which he said Howard “was the bravest soldier I ever met.”

    “His unshakeable commitment to freedom, displayed in countless episodes of battlefield gallantry, lives on in the actions of our military men and women who continue to serve in hostile conditions overseas,” he said.

    Howard, who grew up in Opelika, Alabama, enlisted in the Army in 1956 at the age of 17 and retired as a full Colonel in 1992.

    In Vietnam, he served in the U.S. Army Special Forces and spent most of his five tours in the secret Military Assistance Command, Vietnam-Studies and Observation Group, or MACV-SOG, which was an unconventional force whose members were assigned to deep-penetration reconnaissance and interdiction missions.

    He was nominated three times for the Medal of Honor, which he was awarded in 1971 for the rescue of a seriously wounded platoon leader who was under enemy fire.

    During his 54 months of combat duty in Vietnam, Howard was wounded 14 times and was awarded eight Purple Heart Medals.

    He leaves behind his children, Denicia Howard of Florida, Melissa Gentsch and husband, Waco Assistant Chief of Police Frank Gentsch of Waco, Rosslyn Howard of California and Robert Howard, Jr. and his wife, Tori of California.



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    Howard entered 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.

    While leading a covert SOG platoon-sized mission in southeastern Laos on November 16, 1967, Sergeant First Class Howard carried out actions that led to his being recommended for his nation’s highest honor. While the main body destroyed an enemy cache, Howard’s team came upon four North Vietnamese Army soldiers, whom he shot. The team was then pinned down by heavy machine gun fire. Howard first eliminated a sniper and then charged the machine gun position, killing its occupants. When a second machine gun opened up, he crawled forward to within point-blank range and threw a hand grenade, disabling that gun.

    When more of the North Vietnamese took over the same gun, Howard stood in the open and fired a light anti-tank weapon, knocking it out once again. The team was then successfully extracted by helicopter. Although recommended for the Medal of Honor, Howard’s award was downgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross. This would be the first of three recommendations within 13 months for the Medal of Honor for Robert Howard.

    In mid-November Howard accompanied an FOB-2 Hatchet Platoon into Laos. After four days in the area, on November 19, 1968, the force was ambushed by Vietnamese troops, including a Soviet-built PT-76 tank. Braving intense fire, Howard crept forward and knocked out the PT-76 with an anti-tank rocket. After a medivac helicopter was shot down, Howard, already wounded, charged forward 300 yards through North Vietnamese fire to lead the two pilots and a wounded door gunner to safety. He was again wounded, this time by 14 pieces of shrapnel, but all that this seemed to do was aggravate him.

    He charged the Vietnamese, killed two and dragged back a third as a prisoner. North Vietnamese anti-aircraft fire halted the extraction of the platoon until the following morning, when Howard, already perforated multiple times, moved forward and silenced a 37 mm anti-aircraft gun, allowing the extraction to be completed. For the second time, Howard was recommended for the Medal of Honor, but his award was again downgraded to a Distinguished Service Cross.

    This series of events illustrates the difficulties faced when special operations personnel exhibited extraordinary bravery in denied areas. Recommendations for decorations always stipulated the location and circumstances of the action, and since the award of such a high decoration became public knowledge, the citation would have to be changed to place the action within territorial South Vietnam. The U.S. Congress and President were loath to create any sense of falsehood about the actions of the nation’s most highly decorated military personnel, so, in many instances, awards were downgraded to keep the recipient out of the limelight.

    On December 30, 1968 Howard was serving as a member of a 40-man Bright Light rescue mission into northeastern Cambodia. The unit was in search of MACSOG Private First Class Robert Scherdin, who had been separated from his recon team. Bypassing a North Vietnamese Army company, Howard was leading his men up a hill when he and Lieutenant Jim Jerson were wounded by a land mine. While administering first aid to Jerson, a bullet struck one of the wounded man’s ammunition pouches, detonating several magazines. His fingers in shreds, Howard was dragging Jerson off the hill when he was shot in the foot.

    The remaining 20 men were organized by Howard, who administered first aid, directed their fire, and encouraged them to resist. After three and one-half hours under attack, Howard prepared for a fight to the death. The team was saved from that fate, however, when an emergency night extraction took them off without any further casualties. As badly wounded as he was, Howard was the last man to board a helicopter. After his third recommendation in 13 months, Robert Howard was finally awarded a well-deserved Medal of Honor.

    Perhaps no man represented the quandary of the political and moral dilemma of the Vietnam War in the heart and mind of America better than Howard. He had become arguably the most highly decorated serviceman in American military history, yet few of his countrymen even knew who he was. Unlike Alvin York or Audie Murphy before him, Howard was not touted as a national hero by the media, he was given no ticker tape parade, and no Hollywood movie was made depicting his extraordinary exploits. Of course, none of this bothered the quiet, unassuming Howard. He remained in the Army and retired as a full Colonel, after 36 years of active service, in September 1992.

    It is believed by some historians that Howard is the most highly-decorated living American soldier in history. 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.


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







    The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Sergeant First Class Robert Lewis Howard (ASN: RA-14628152), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Command and Control (Central), 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces.
    Sergeant First Class Howard distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 21 November 1967, as Special Forces Advisor to a joint American and Vietnamese reconnaissance patrol conducting a search mission near the Laotian border. His patrol discovered a huge rice and ammunition cache surrounded by an enemy bunker complex. Sergeant Howard led a small team to provide security while the remainder of the unit began to destroy the stored supplies. His team encountered four North Vietnamese Army soldiers, and Sergeant Howard killed them with a fierce burst of rifle fire. He and his men were immediately pinned down by a murderous curtain of fire which erupted from a nearby enemy machine gun position. With complete disregard for his safety, Sergeant Howard crawled toward the emplacement and killed a North Vietnamese sniper who was firing at him as he maneuvered. He then charged the bunker, eliminating its occupants with rifle fire. A second machine gun position unleashed a savage barrage. Sergeant Howard moved his troops to a covered location and directed an air strike against the fortified bunker. While assessing the bomb damage, Sergeant Howard was fired upon by North Vietnamese soldiers in the bunker who had survived the blasts. Pinned down directly outside the strongpoint with a blazing machine gun barrel only six inches above his head, he threw a hand grenade into the aperture of the emplacement, killing the gunners and temporarily silencing the weapon. He then dashed to his team's location and secured a light anti-tank weapon. As the enemy machine gun resumed firing, Sergeant Howard stood up amid a withering hail of bullets, fired his weapon, and completely demolished the position. His fearless and determined actions in close combat enabled the remainder of the patrol to destroy the enemy cache. Sergeant First Class Howard's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
    Service: Army
    Rank: Sergeant First Class
    Headquarters, U.S. Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 2018 (May 2, 1968)


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Sergeant First Class Robert Lewis Howard (ASN: RA-14628152), United States Army, for gallantry in action while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces.
    Sergeant First Class Howard distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions from 12 to 20 November 1968, during an operation deep within enemy-held territory. As his platoon was being inserted into the area, it came under heavy fie from all directions. Sergeant Howard leaped from his helicopter before it touched down and began to return fire, providing protection for his men while they dismounted and moved safely off the landing zone. Seeing two enemy soldiers in a wood line, he charged their position and killed them both. When the unit was attacked by a company-size force on the night of 16 November, he went to each platoon member, encouraging them and directing their fire while completely exposing himself to the communist barrage. Two days later while Sergeant Howard was leading the point element, the platoon was ambushed by an estimated two North Vietnamese Army companies. He skillfully maneuvered his men so that the enemy was caught in a deadly crossfire and the ambush was broken. The following day, Sergeant Howard had again taken the point element when he observed an estimated battalion-size ambush. Although wounded in the initial exchange of fire, he exposed himself to the aggressors to place effective fire on them and enable his platoon to take cover. Moving from position to position, he administered first aid to the wounded and set up a landing zone so that they could be evacuated. As the first ambulance helicopter came in, it was struck by hostile machine gun fire and burst into flames. Sergeant Howard, although wounded a second time, ran one hundred and fifty meters to where the ship had crashed and rescued a trapped pilot from the blazing wreckage. Once the entire crew was free from the aircraft, he led them back to the platoon while providing covering fire. Three hours later another helicopter succeeded in landing and the casualties were evacuated, but Sergeant Howard refused to leave. The next morning, he saw three North Vietnamese soldiers maneuvering towards his element and immediately opened fire, killing them.
    Service: Army
    Rank: Sergeant First Class
    Headquarters, U.S. Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 371 (February 3, 1969)


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Awards and decorations
    Medal of Honor
    Distinguished Service Cross (with one oak leaf cluster)
    Silver Star
    Defense Superior Service Medal
    Legion of Merit (with three oak leaf clusters)
    Bronze Star (with three oak leaf clusters and "V" device)
    Purple Heart (with a silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters)
    Meritorious Service Medal (with two oak leaf clusters)
    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
    Army Achievement
    Good Conduct Medal, 4 Good Conduct Loops (4 awards)
    National Defense Service Medal
    Armed Forces Reserve Medal
    Vietnam Service Medal
    NCO Professional Development Ribbon with 2 device
    Army Overseas Ribbon
    Army Service Ribbon
    Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, w/3 Service stars (3 awards)
    Army Presidential Unit Citation, 1st Oak Leaf Cluster
    Presidential Unit Citation (United States) 2001, Studies and Observations Group
    Navy Unit Commendation
    Army Meritorious Unit Citation
    Foreign decorations
    Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60 device
    Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star (Corps citation)
    Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star (Division citation)
    Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star (Regiment or Brigade citation)
    Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal 2nd Award
    Vietnam Wound Medal
    Vietnam Civil Actions Medal 2nd Award
    Vietnam Cross of Gallantry Unit Citation with Palm, 1st Oak Leaf Cluster (Unit citation)
    Republic of Korea Order of National Security Merit (Samil Medal)

    Badges, qualifications and tabs
    Ranger Tab
    Special Forces Tab
    Combat Infantryman Badge
    Aircrew Badge
    Master Parachutist Badge
    Pathfinder Badge
    Air Assault Badge
    Expert Infantryman's Badge
    Vietnamese Ranger Badge
    Vietnamese Master Parachute Badge
    Thai Master Parachute Wings
    Korean Master Parachute Badge
    Thai Balloonist Badge
    French Parachutist Badge
    Bitka Sve Reava!
    B-2-10 SFG(A)/ A-2-11 SFG(A) 1977-1994

  2. #2
    Campaign Veteran kimbercarrier's Avatar
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    Although I have never heard of him before I am sorry to hear of his passing. He sounds like the kinda man John Wayne would look up to and rightfully so.

    His story would make a hell of a movie and they wouldn't even have to embellish on it.

    May GOD bless him and his family.

  3. #3
    Regular Member Alexcabbie's Avatar
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    The greatest men who have ever lived are often also those whom pracically no one has ever heard about.

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    Thank you Col. Howard - rest in well deserved peace.

    Yata hey
    You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall back on your level of training. Archilochus, 650 BC

    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time. Yata hey.

  5. #5
    Regular Member ODA 226's Avatar
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    kimbercarrier wrote:
    Although I have never heard of him before I am sorry to hear of his passing. He sounds like the kinda man John Wayne would look up to and rightfully so.

    His story would make a hell of a movie and they wouldn't even have to embellish on it.

    May GOD bless him and his family.
    He was in a John Wayne movie, "The Green Berets" and played an Airborne Instructor at the Airborne Course at Ft. Benning. John Wayne said he was the "Baddest Man Alive" and that's how he got the nickname, "Bad Bob Howard". Pretty bad judging "The Duke" gave it to him!
    Bitka Sve Reava!
    B-2-10 SFG(A)/ A-2-11 SFG(A) 1977-1994

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    Regular Member KansasMustang's Avatar
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    All I can say is "De Opresso Liber" May God embrace this fine hero and give him peace.
    edited for typo, too early in the morning
    Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man. Thomas Jefferson

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    Regular Member SouthernBoy's Avatar
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    What an honor to have known such a man. May God see that his eternal path is ever bright and peaceful.

    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

    America First!

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    Any details on the burial at Arlington National Ceremony? Will it be open to the public?

    http://rlhtribute.com/

    (Edit to include tribute link)

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    Regular Member ODA 226's Avatar
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    Regular_Joe wrote:
    Any details on the burial at Arlington National Ceremony? Will it be open to the public?

    http://rlhtribute.com/

    (Edit to include tribute link)
    I'll post that info as soon as I receive it.
    Bitka Sve Reava!
    B-2-10 SFG(A)/ A-2-11 SFG(A) 1977-1994

  10. #10
    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    KansasMustang wrote:
    All I can say is "De Opresso Libre" May God embrace this fine hero and give him peace.

    Amen.

    Yata hey
    You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall back on your level of training. Archilochus, 650 BC

    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time. Yata hey.

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    Regular Member UtahJarhead's Avatar
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    This is a bit off-topic, but the website, rlhtribute.com, is wrong on one point.

    Although it can only be awarded once to an individual, men who served with him said he deserved all three.

    This isn't true. While he certainly does appear to deserve all 3 CMH's in my eyes, he was only awarded one. It *IS* possible to be awarded multiples as shown by the two individuals Dan Daly and Smedley Butler. I do not know of any Army members that were awarded as I was only taught USMC history in the Corps.

    This man's CMH was no small feat and I'm proud to know he was an American! Snuck into Cambodia in search for a POW? Sounds like a real life Rambo to me!

    Some sources say this man was not awarded multiple CMH's because of the covert nature of some of his operations and awarding him the CMH's would have brought them to light.

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    Regular Member ODA 226's Avatar
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    UtahJarhead wrote:
    This is a bit off-topic, but the website, rlhtribute.com, is wrong on one point.

    Although it can only be awarded once to an individual, men who served with him said he deserved all three.

    This isn't true. While he certainly does appear to deserve all 3 CMH's in my eyes, he was only awarded one. It *IS* possible to be awarded multiples as shown by the two individuals Dan Daly and Smedley Butler. I do not know of any Army members that were awarded as I was only taught USMC history in the Corps.

    This man's CMH was no small feat and I'm proud to know he was an American! Snuck into Cambodia in search for a POW? Sounds like a real life Rambo to me!

    Some sources say this man was not awarded multiple CMH's because of the covert nature of some of his operations and awarding him the CMH's would have brought them to light.
    There was a time when the MOH could be awarded to an individual more than once. However that changed to only one award in the early 1960's, if I recall correctly.

    Thomas Ward Custer, George's younger brother was awarded the MOH twice, as were three other Army soldiers.

    Bitka Sve Reava!
    B-2-10 SFG(A)/ A-2-11 SFG(A) 1977-1994

  13. #13
    Regular Member UtahJarhead's Avatar
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    ODA 226 wrote:
    There was a time when the MOH could be awarded to an individual more than once. However that changed to only one award in the early 1960's, if I recall correctly.

    Thomas Ward Custer, George's younger brother was awarded the MOH twice, as were three other Army soldiers.
    I didn't know that! Thanks!

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    Regular Member 45acpForMe's Avatar
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    Rest in peace Col. Howard! I hope we get to meet in Heaven.

    This is the true grit America needs,and unfortunately in his passing the light of liberty shines a little less bright. Why can't we be holding people like Col. Howard up as role models and not professional sports(football, basketball, wrestlers)? I hadn't heard his name until today!

    Some US history course should be rewritten to study the actions that each medal of honor winner performed. There was a time when kids studied all the founding fathers not just a few.

    A side note about John Wayne. While I grew up admiring him and his movies, my dad said he was boo-ed when he went to visit the south pacific. Men had fought and died on those Japanese infested islands and the livingdid not see much of the glory of war, lack of sleep, food, water, dead bodies, feces, flies, smells, mortarsand snipers took all the fun out of war that John Wayne had shown. I don't know if he deserved it or not but Hollywood glossed over reality, possibly at the recruiters request. Luckily for me my dad arrived after the fighting stopped. He had to wait until he was 17 to sign up.

  15. #15
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    Col. Robert Howard Service Schedule

    Visitation Date:
    Wednesday, Thursday, December 30 & 31, 2009
    Visitation Time:
    9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
    Visitation Location:
    OakCrest Funeral Home

    Burial Date:
    Monday, February 22, 2010
    Burial Location:
    Arlington National Cemetery
    Bitka Sve Reava!
    B-2-10 SFG(A)/ A-2-11 SFG(A) 1977-1994

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