Robert L. Howard
|Robert L. Howard|
Colonel Robert L. Howard
July 11, 1939|
|Died||December 23, 2009
|Buried at||Arlington National Cemetery Section 7A Grave 138|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1956–1992|
|Unit||5th Special Forces Group
Special Operations Command Korea
|Awards||Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit (4)
Bronze Star (4)
Purple Heart (8)
Meritorious Service Medal (3)
Air Medal (3)
Joint Service Commendation
Army Commendation Medal (7)
|Other work||Department of Veterans Affairs|
He was nominated for the Medal of Honor three separate times over a 13-month period but received lesser medals for the first two nominations, which were for actions performed in Cambodia where the U.S. was fighting covertly. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions on November 16, 1967 in North Vietnam, his third nomination.
He died as a result of pancreatic cancer, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on February 22, 2010.
At the time of his death he was the most decorated living Medal of Honor recipient.
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 Hatchet 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 a 54-month period in the Vietnam War.
He received two master's degrees during his Army career which spanned 1956 to 1992.
Howard retired as a Colonel in 1992.
According to NBC News, Howard may have been the most highly decorated American soldier of the modern era.
His residence was in Texas and he spent much of his free time working with veterans until the time of his death. He also took periodic trips to Iraq to visit active duty troops.
His funeral was in Arlington National Cemetery on February 22, 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
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- He initially was awarded a second Distinguished Service Cross, but this was later rescinded and upgraded to the Medal of Honor
- "Upgraded or Revoked Awards of The Distinguished Service Cross". Homeofheroes.com. Retrieved October 9, 2015.
- Eberle, Lance Cpl. Ben (November 19, 2006). "Medal of Honor recipients make special visit". Retrieved 2010-02-24.
- Associated Press, "Decorated Army colonel, MoH recipient dies", Military Times, December 24, 2009.
- Williams, Brian, "Medal of Honor: Robert Howard 1939–2009", NBC News, December 23, 2009.
- 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.
- Horst, Kaitlin, Arlington National Cemetery Public Affairs "Col. Robert L. Howard laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery". Retrieved on October 26, 2014.
- Mike Bottoms (2014-05-27). "Medal of Honor recipient, Special Operations legend receives USSOCOM's 2014 Bull Simons Award". United States Special Operations Command Public Affairs. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- 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
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