Monday, January 11, 2010

A Legendary Special Forces Warrior Dies - Medal of Honor Recipient Col. Robert Howard

Died December 23, 2009


Colonel Robert L. Howard was born on July 11, 1939 in Opelika, Ala. He entered military service on July 20, 1956 in Montgomery, Ala., following in the footsteps of his father and four uncles who had served with airborne units in World War II. He was medically retired on Sept. 30, 1992. He lived his last few years in San Antonio, Texas. While serving with 5th Special Forces Group, he received a direct appointment from master sergeant to first lieutenant in December 1969. His 36 years of military service included more than 33 years on airborne status.

He participated in two movies concerning airborne and special operations missions, both featuring John Wayne. He made a parachute jump on the filming of The Longest Day and as an airborne instructor in The Green Berets.

Military assignments include duty with the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions; 2nd Ranger Battalion; 3rd, 5th, and 6th Special Forces Group; 5th Infantry Division; 7th Corps, XVIII Airborne Corps. He served in the Eighth United States Army and Combined Forces Command. Service in Vietnam included serving with 1st Bn., 327th Airborne Infantry, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division and Special Forces. He was the post commander of Kelly Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany, executive officer of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, and the Mountain Ranger Camp. Howard served a total of five tours in Vietnam. As an NCO, Howard served as a demolitions sergeant. While with Special Forces, he served the majority of his time with Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group, based out of Kontum. During his 58 months of combat, he was wounded fourteen times. Between 1968 and 1969, he was put in for three Medals of Honor. The first nomination was downgraded to Distinguished Service Cross and third to a Silver Star.

President Nixon presented the Medal of Honor to him on March 2, 1971.

Colonel Howard was a distinguished honor graduate of the Ranger Course, Pathfinder Course, and Parachute Rigger School. He received the Outstanding Infantryman's Trophy as Outstanding Infantry Officer of Class 1979-1980 at the Command and General Staff College. He graduated from the National War College, Class 1987-1988.

His military service also contributed to exceptional civilian recognition for service to his nation. He received the Outstanding Youngman of America award 1970; nominated as one of ten Outstanding Youngmen in America in 1971 and 1972; inducted into the Military Hall of Fame, Hoover Institute, Stanford University in 1980; inducted into the Military Hall of Fame, Veterans of Foreign Wars, State of Alabama in 1973; and was promoted to Colonel for Life in 1976 by Alabama State Governor George Wallace and the Alabama State Militia.

His awards and decorations include the Medal of Honor; Distinguished Service Cross; Silver Star; Defense Superior Service Medal; Legion of Merit (three awards); Bronze Star for Valor (three awards); Purple Heart (eight awards); Meritorious Service Medal (two awards); Air Medal for Valor (two awards); Joint Service Commendation Medal; Army Commendation Medal for Valor (three awards); Joint Service Achievement Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal (four awards); National Defense Service Medal; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Vietnam Service Medal; Armed Forces Reserve Medal; NCO Professional Development Ribbon; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Gold, Silver and Bronze Stars; and the Vietnam Wound Medal.

He was also authorized to wear the Army Presidential Unit Citation; Navy Valorous Unit Citation; Army Meritorious Unit Citation; Vietnamese Gallantry Unit Citation with Palm; Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal (two awards); Vietnam Civil Action Medal (two awards); Republic of Korea Order of National Security Merit (Samil Medal); Combat Infantryman’s Badge; Expert Infantryman’s Badge; Army Aircrew Badge; Master Parachutist Badge; Pathfinder Badge; Air Assault Badge; Vietnamese Ranger Badge; Special Forces Tab and Army Ranger Tab.

After retirement from military service in 1992, Colonel Bob Howard was employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. He retired in January 2006 after 52 years of government service.

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Our condolences to Colonel Howard's family, friends, and fellow warriors.

Charles M. Grist

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. American Ranger - Together for 36 Years!

She was a shy young thing - only 18 - when she first caught my eye. I was a young Vietnam veteran who stubbornly asked her out three separate times. Then, at the last moment, she would cancel the date. On what I figured would be my last try, she accepted again, but this time she decided to take a chance. Boy, am I glad she did...

A year later, Debbie became my wife, and she has stood by me every step of the way. Four children and four grandchildren later, she is still my special angel, the love of my life, and the reason for all that I do. She has been the center of our family and the glowing heart of all we have been.

It has not always been easy. Like all couples, we have had our challenges, our successes, and our failures. We have endured pain and shared happiness, and, yes, there were those times when circumstances could have sent us our separate ways. Still, we stuck together, we refused to give up, and we made it because we're a team. I am blessed as few men can be.

Happy Anniversary, sweetheart...What say we do another 36 years?

The Luckiest Man in the World