Rank Insignia Previous Honoree ID Next Honoree ID

honoree image
First Name: Robert

Last Name: Howard


Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Lewis

Date of Birth: 11 July 1937

Date of Death: 23 December 2009

Rank: Colonel

Years Served: 1956-1992
Robert Lewis Howard

•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Robert Lewis Howard
Colonel, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
Vietnam War

Colonel Robert Lewis Howard (11 July 1939 - 23 December 2009) was a highly decorated U.S. Army soldier and Medal of Honor recipient of the Vietnam War. He was wounded 14 times over 54 months of combat during the Vietnam War. He was awarded 8 Purple Hearts, 4 Bronze Stars, and was nominated for the Medal of Honor three different times. Howard enlisted in the Army at Montgomery, AL, and retired as a Colonel.

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 different occasions for three individual actions during thirteen months spanning 1967-1968. The first two nominations were downgraded to a Silver Star and 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 30 December 1968, while second in command of a platoon-sized Hornet force that was searching for missing U.S. 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.

Medal of Honor

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to


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.

Howard received two Masters degrees during his government career which spanned almost 50 years. His Army career spanned 1956 to 1992 and he retired as a full Colonel in 1992.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross (2 awards)
Silver Star Medal
Legion of Merit (4 awards)
Bronze Star Medal with Combat "Valor" Device (4 awards)
Purple Heart (8 awards)
Meritorious Service Medal (3 awards)
Air Medal with "V" Device and numeral 3. (One for heroism and two for aerial achievement)
Joint Service Commendation
Army Commendation Medal with Combat "Valor" Device and 1 each Silver and Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters. (4 awards for valor and 3 for achievement)
Joint Service Achievement
Army Achievement
Good Conduct Medal (4 awards)
National Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (3 awards)
Vietnam Service Medal with 3 Service Stars (3 campaigns)
Armed Forces Reserve Medal
NCO Professional Development Ribbon with 2 devices
Army Service Ribbon
Army Overseas Service Ribbon

Unit Citations

Presidential Unit Citation (Army) with Oak Leaf Cluster (2 awards)
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army)
Navy Unit Commendation
Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry Unit Citation with Palm (Unit citation)
Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Unit Citation with Palm (Unit citation)

Foreign Awards

Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star (Corps citation), Silver Star (Division citation) and Bronze Star (Regiment/Brigade citation)
Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal, 1st Class
Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Medal, 1st Class
Republic of Vietnam Wound Medal
Republic of Vietnam Staff Service Medal, 2nd Class
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960 bar
Republic of Korea Order of National Security Merit (Sam-Il Medal)

Badges, Tabs, Qualifications

Ranger Tab
Special Forces Tab
Combat Infantryman Badge
Expert Infantryman Badge
Aircrew Badge
Master Parachutist Badge
Pathfinder Badge
Air Assault Badge
Expert Marksmanship Badge
Vietnamese Ranger Badge
Vietnamese Master Parachute Badge
Thai Master Parachute Wings
Korean Master Parachute Badge
Thai Balloonist Badge
French Parachutist Badge

According to NBC News, Howard may have been the most highly-decorated American soldier since World War II.

Howard's residence was in Texas and he spent much of his free time working with veterans up until the time of his death. He had also taken periodic trips to Iraq to visit active duty troops.

Death and Burial

Colonel Robert Lewis Howard died of pancreatic cancer at a hospice in Waco, TX, on 23 December 2009. He was survived by four children and four grandchildren. His funeral and burial took place at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA, on 22 February 2010.

Honoree ID: 39   Created by: MHOH




Honoree Photos

honoree imagehonoree imagehonoree image

honoree imagehonoree image

honoree image