08 January 2010

RIP: Col Robert L. Howard

11 Jul 1939 - 23 Dec 2009

ZUI this article from the Dallas Morning News:
Retired Army Col. Robert L. Howard, a Medal of Honor recipient who retired in San Antonio and was one of the most highly decorated soldiers from the Vietnam War, died Wednesday.

Robert L. Howard served five tours in Vietnam and was nominated for the Medal of Honor thrice in 13 months. Col. Howard, 70, died at about noon at a hospice in Waco, where he'd been for about three weeks, suffering from pancreatic cancer, said Benito Guerrero, a close friend, Vietnam veteran and retired sergeant major.


Col. Howard, born July 11, 1939, grew up in Opelika, Ala., and served in the Army from 1956 to 1992. After retiring at Fort Sam Houston, he decided to stay in San Antonio.

Col. Howard, who served five tours of Vietnam, was a sergeant first class in the Army's Special Forces on Dec. 30, 1968, when he rallied a badly shot-up platoon against an estimated 250 enemy troops. Despite being unable to walk because of injuries, he coordinated a counterattack while aiding the wounded and was the last man to board a helicopter, according to military records.


Col. Howard is survived by three children, including a daughter living in Waco, retired Maj. Gen. Alfred Valenzuela said. A memorial service in San Antonio and burial at Arlington National Cemetery are planned.

The New York Times has an obituary here, and Wikipedia has an article here.

************* *** *************


First Lieutenant (then Sergeant First Class), US Army; 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces

Born: 11 July 1939, Opelika, Alabama
Died: 23 December 2009, Waco, Texas

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 [on 30 December 1968] 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.

No comments: