On December 23, 2009, in a hospice center in Waco, Texas, a man by the name of Robert L. Howard passed away as the result of pancreatic cancer. This gentleman was 70 years of age at the time of his death. No detailed news of his death was broadcast in the media or newspapers. Certainly no publicity or major news coverage to rival the magnitude of Michael Jackson’s death. 

So who was Robert L. Howard?

  Colonel Robert L. Howard was one of those greater than life individuals. He was the most decorated Vietnam veteran and possibly the most decorated American soldier of the modern era. He is the only soldier in our nation’s history to be nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor three times for three separate actions within a thirteen month period.  Since 1917, Congress established that the Congressional Medal of Honor could only be awarded once to an individual. Men who served with him said that he deserved all three.  

  President Richard M. Nixon awarded Colonel Howard the Congressional Medal of Honor at the White House in 1971. His other awards for valor include the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, four Bronze Stars with combat Valor, and numerous lesser decorations including eight Purple Hearts. He was wounded 14 times in 54 months of combat duty in Vietnam. He received his decorations for valorous actions while serving as an NCO (Sergeant First Class).

  Robert L. Howard grew up in Opelika, 
Alabama and enlisted in the U.S. Army’s 101st. Airborne Division in 1956 at age seventeen. He received a direct appointment from Master Sergeant to 1st. Lieutenant in 1969 and retired as a full Colonel in 1992 after 36 years service. 

During Vietnam, he served in the U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets) and spent most of his five tours in the super -secret MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observations Group) also known as Special Operations Group, which ran classified cross-border operations into Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam. Members of these groups carried out some of the most daring and dangerous missions ever conducted by the U.S. military. The under strength sixty-man recon company at Kontum, in which he served, was the Vietnam War’s most highly decorated unit of its size, with five Medals of Honor. It was for his actions while serving on a mission to rescue a fellow soldier in Cambodia, that he was nominated for the third Medal of Honor. He was the last Vietnam Special Forces Medal of Honor recipient still on active duty when he retired on September 29, 1992. His story is told in John Paster’s excellent book, SOG The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam. During the interim of his military career, Colonel Howard managed to get two Masters’ Degrees. After retiring from the Army in 1992, he worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Colonel Howard often visited US Servicemen to speak about his combat experiences, making five trips to Iraq. During a visit there in April, together with Gary Littrell, another Medal of Honor recipient, one soldier asked how they had remained motivated during the war and, in turn, how they had motivated their men.

  "We had no choice but to stay motivated as leaders," Howard said. "As for our soldiers, we reminded them that God and country came before our needs."
  Colonel Howard leaves his daughters Denicia Howard of Florida, Melissa Gentsch of Hewitt, Texas, and Rosslyn Howard of California; a son, Robert, Jr., an army sergeant, of California; and four grandchildren.

I wrote this article to honor a true American, courageous soldier and man. It is mind boggling that none of the major news networks including CBS, NBC or ABC took the time to honor this incredible man. The antiwar mentality that permeates our news media is a disgrace, travesty and insult to those brave soldiers and Marines who serve and die for our country. We can sit and be bored to death by hours of inane talk about Michael Jackson, Brittany Spears, Paris Hilton and others, but  no mention of somebody as courageous and worthy asColonel Robert L. Howard.

May all soldiers and Marines take a moment to honor this great soldier and offer prayers for his family. We must never ever forget, take for granted, or lose  respect for the life of Colonel Robert L. Howard. God Bless you Colonel Howard!

  "Old Soldiers never die; they just fade away. And like the old soldier in that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, a soldier who tried to do his duty as  God gave him the sight to see that duty."-General Douglas MacArthur

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Rick Mowles

The Passing of Warrior Hero Robert L. Howard

Rick Mowles
Rick Mowles
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