Profiles of Valor: U.S. Army Col. Robert Howard

Ret. Col. Robert Howard was laid to rest Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery. He died Dec. 23 at age 70. Howard served five tours in Vietnam, was wounded 14 times, and was the most decorated soldier from that war, including eight Purple Hearts, four Bronze Stars, four Legion of Merit awards, the Silver Star, the Distinguished Service Cross (twice) and the Medal of Honor — a medal for which he was nominated three times for three separate actions in a 13-month period.

Howard’s Medal of Honor citation reads, “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 … 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. …

“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.”

Rest in peace, Colonel.


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