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Colonel (R) Robert L. Howard


24 Feburary 2010

From: Mellinger, Jeffrey J CSM MIL USA

Classification:  UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

Today, at Arlington National Cemetery, we lay to rest COL(R) Robert L. Howard.  The link for the interview is at the end of this email.

Read a bit about Howard at one of these links: The Robert L. Howard Tribute Website, The Congressional Medal of Honor Society Website, The Washington Post- Medal of Honor recipient Col. Robert L. Howard dies at 70.

COL(R) Howard was arguably America's most highly decorated Warrior ever, earning more awards for valor (10) than Audie Murphy, but he was surely America’s most highly living warrior until his death.  The US Army Special Forces Command (Airborne) Biographical Sketch.

Color image from the Robert L. Howard Tribute website.

Wounded 14 times in 54 months of combat duty in Vietnam, Robert Howard was awarded 8 Purple Hearts and was believed to be the most decorated living American.

Colonel Howard served five tours in Vietnam and is the only soldier in our nation's history to be nominated for the Medal of Honor three times for three separate actions within a thirteen-month period. He received a direct appointment from Master Sergeant to 1st Lieutenant in 1969, and was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Richard M. Nixon at the White House in 1971. Colonel Howard is one of America's most decorated soldiers. His other awards for valor include the Distinguished Service Cross - our nation's second highest award, the Silver Star - the third highest award, and eight Purple Hearts. He was the last Vietnam Special Forces Medal of Honor recipient still on active duty when he retired on Sept. 29, 1992.

Interview at the Pritzer Military Library Website.

Please find some time to read, listen and reflect on one of America’s real heroes – Robert L. Howard.  He was once my commander, and always my friend.  I last saw Bob in Iraq.


Classification:  UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    James Davis · 10 years ago
    I also first met (then Major) Robert Howard when he was the camp commander at Camp MacKall when I was there
    (class 7/81) for phase one SF training. I was 20 years old and remember him running circles around our formation at
    a time when he would have be more than twice my age. (hit it!!)
    Perhaps owing to his beginning his carreer as an enlisted man, his carriage was entirely different from most officers I had ever met.
    When I ran afoul of the requirements at one point, he listened to my explanation and fairly let me have a chance to redeem myself.
    and I still feel the sting of once having "let him down" in my own estimation. though it's been almost 30 years.
    Since those days, he has been my personal hero. I had hoped to visit him again one day, but have now missed the chance.
    He was a magnificent man and a humble Hero. "I shall not look upon his like again."
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    C. John Hebert · 10 years ago
    "All the way" buddy, and thankyou
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    De oppresso liber · 10 years ago
    Almighty GOD, Who art the Author of liberty and the Champion of the oppressed, hear our prayer.

    We, the men of Special Forces, acknowledge our dependence upon Thee in the preservation of human freedom.

    Go with us as we seek to defend the defenseless and to free the enslaved.

    May we ever remember that our nation, whose motto is "In God We Trust", expects that we shall acquit ourselves with honor, that we may never bring shame upon our faith, our families, or our fellow men.

    Grant us wisdom from Thy mind, courage from Thine heart, strength from Thine arm, and protection by Thine hand.

    It is for Thee that we do battle, and to Thee belongs the victor's crown.

    For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever. AMEN
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    lamar Jackson · 10 years ago
    May Colonel Howard and all true heroes like him rest forever in the arms of God.
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    Jake Riely · 10 years ago
    Sir, a smiple thanks is not fitting for all you have done, but sadly its all I have Thank you sir for giving me and others the chance to raise our family in the greastest nation in the world. My dad severed with you in NAM. He always told us about you. My dad was honored to serve with you, GOD rest, you are a true hero. THANKS..
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    Jamison Reynolds · 10 years ago
    RIP Col. Howard and God Bless another Airborne Angel. DE OPPRESSO LIBER
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    James Swearengin · 10 years ago
    Thank you for your service, your sacrifice and may none of this nation's heroes ever be forgotten. All the way sir!
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    Roy Davis · 10 years ago
    COL (then CPT) Howard was one of my instructors in the mountain phase of Ranger School back in the 70's. He was literally a giant of a man. Unflinching, unyielding, but absolutely fair. A true inspiratiopn for all soldiers and one of our great heroes. I am convinced that he does in death what he always did in life: watch over us. God bless you Sir.

    De Oppresso Liber
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    M. Report · 10 years ago
    Hail, and Farewell.
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    Dale Lindley SW NM P · 10 years ago
    We salute Col. Howard as well as all those who have given "all". God Bless Col. Howard and his family. Thank you Sir.
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    Quinn Waller · 10 years ago
    Did not know him, but sounds like a man of iron, Wish we could clone a man like this. Thanks for your service. God rest.
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    Tom Callahan · 10 years ago
    Put silver wings

    Upon their chests

    These Our Men

    America's Best

    1000 men

    They'll test one day

    But only three

    Win the Green Beret
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    Stephen Rittenberg, · 10 years ago
    Thank you Michael, for bringing this great man to our attention. Also, thanks to all the veterans who knew him and commented so movingly. It is shocking that our celebrity culture fawns over pigmies when men of Colonel Howard's stature move among us. May his warrior spirit infuse our culture with backbone to withstand the assaults from our enemies, within and without.
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    CW4 Dennis retired · 10 years ago
    From one VN Vet to another, I am proud of COL Howards accomplishments. Not only is it very difficult to complete the Special Forces / Ranger training, but to served 5 tours in Vietnam, that amazed me. I served one tour in Vietnam (68-69) and one tour in Iraq (05-06), over my 40 year career in the army, and never had it half as bad as what COL Howard. I, like many others, believe our true hero's are hidden from sociality. We don't worship them, but we honor them. Good job, soldier! Your family, your nation and the US Army are better because of you!
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    Willis Helms · 10 years ago
    Thank you Sir for your courage, character, integrity, and for setting an example for all of us to follow, with humility, honor and true patriotism. These and many other qualities that you possessed is what our country needs more of, TRUE LEADERS who will stand up and be counted. Our best wishes goes out to his family. Oh how proud you can be of this great man, just as all of us Americians should be. May God bless you all in a very special way.
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    PSWACON · 10 years ago
    I believe Col. Howard was talked about in a book I read called "SOG". When I saw this report I teared up. It is with a heavy heart that I Thank God, and his family, for giving this country the gift of a Col. Howard. May he Rest in peace now, after allowing us to Live in peace all these years. Thank you sir!
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    Donald Brazeald 1stS · 10 years ago
    I just wanted to comment on the passing of Col Howard. Many young folks in America need to know his story. We have been blessed to have had a Warrior of his caliber in the service of our great nation. Fiddelers Green just got a litter greener with his command presence and lead from the front style. Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, and Coast Guardmen of present must keep the spririt of this man alive for decaded to come.

    Semper Fi and Gung Ho, RIP Col Howard
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    Sid James · 10 years ago
    My dear God , what a great American this man was . I fill so worthless after learning about this True American Heroe and think about the little that I have done for my dear beloved country . Rest In Peace Dear Sir and Thank You from the bottom of my heart for protecting my country , family and my freedom . God Bless You .
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    Old Chief Warrant Of · 10 years ago
    Col Howard provides a rare and powerful example of what selflessness and raw courage actually are. In an age where hollywood music and movie personalities are thought of as somehow heroic, he lived a life that truly was that and more. As a student of history, for me he represented a living piece of it and as a Soldier, I morn his passing, but I will celebrate that we had him for a while to show us what we should all try to be. My sadness is that in our nations decrepit state, he will hardly be mentioned in the headlines and few will remember him. For my part, my children and I will read about Col Howard's example to us.
    I can't help but think, when he was welcomed into the arms of the Lord, the other angels stood in awe. Those of us left behind, most assuredly do.
    God Bless and keep you.
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    Banzai · 10 years ago
    If you study the history of SF in Vietnam, then you can only begin to understand what these Men did not only for their country, but for the freedom loving peoples of SE Asia. I am in absolute awe of Col Howard and call on all others to carry on his story and emulate his example to their utmost. Words cannot describe his valor and strength.
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    bryam frick · 10 years ago
    From one infantry man to another, I wish you a safe journey on your way to be with your brothers. Thank you for your service. Semper Fi
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    Dave Philpott · 10 years ago
    I also first learned about Bob Howard in John Plaster's riveting "SOG - The Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam". This great soldier was admired and revered by many a hero. I was able to meet many MoH recipients about ten years ago. As perfect an afternoon that it was, I was disappointed I had missed meeting the great Bob Howard. I have never served - but I recognize that my freedom to live in peace comes from the combined contributions of men just like him. Rest in peace.
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    Se la Guerre · 10 years ago
    God will keep him on a shelf in a case that says-"In case of war, break glass." He has earned his peace and deserves heartfelt thanks from every American that enjoys the freedom he protected.
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    Bill Hancock · 10 years ago
    Thank you for keeping my family and my nation safe. Rest well.
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    Chris L. Poteat · 10 years ago
    Pop smoke and hold the perimetier brother, To Tall is bringing more of us in every day.
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    William Henry · 10 years ago
    Thank you so very much for your service, you sir are a rare breed. From the bottom of my heart thank you.
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    rbays · 10 years ago
    My father served in the 45th Division, 179th INFANTRY IN WWII. I am honored that brave men like Col. Howard defend our country. Rest in Peace
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    William Henry · 10 years ago
    Thank you for everything you are of a rare breed.
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    Ron Tow · 10 years ago
    I spent some time in the same outfits. I was in the 3rd Rangers, 5th group Special Forces and 12 years in Delta Force. I want to thank you and sure wish I had met you. You was and still are one great American. Rest in peace, you earned it.
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    Cecil Johnson · 10 years ago
    Thank you Col Howard.
    As the 4th Armd Div moto said, "DEEDS ALONE"
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    Jim Adams · 10 years ago
    Thank you Col. Howard for your dedication, bravery and for serving this nation. You are a fine example of what it means to be a Patriot. And also to all the men and women who fought along side him in Vietnam and all the conflicts American has been involved in, thanks!

    The Freedom Ring!
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    Mario Ortega, Sr · 10 years ago
    One last jump Col Howard, Sir. -
    ...a vision of Col. Howards last mission.

    You've been recalled by God, the Father to LZ Heavens Gate. Traveling lite. There you'll leave your `chute, no need to repack. You're expected so orders are not necessary. You've earned a new set of jump wings. Some of your old team are expecting you, I'm sure. Tho' time is immaterial, I expect you'll doubletime it. No ETS from this post soldier! Welcome to your new permanent duty station SOLDIER!

    Lord,Thank him for for me for his service and dedication. I missed my opportunity here on Earth.
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    James Davis · 10 years ago
    "SOG: The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam" by John Plaster
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    Tony Seegers · 10 years ago
    I just read about Col. Howard today. I never heard of him until I read that he had been laid to rest at Arlington today. It doesn't surprise me a man of this stature, a dedicated Special Forces Operator, would not have been in the limelight. God Bless this man and his family. He epitomizes what it means to be a true American and a true man.

    Thank you sir for your service and may the Good Lord now keep you.
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    Rob Bordwell · 10 years ago
    As a soldier I find myself in awe to know there are/were such in our ranks as COL Howard. After reading about his actions during his time in the Army I find myself humbled by the paltry 12 months I spent in Iraq. I can only hope that his passing generates the media coverage that it deserves. Well done, Sir. Your deployment is ended and its time to enjoy your time in the land of the big PX. Hooah!
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    AK · 10 years ago
    ...because once you peel away the scar and sludge, you find men like him - they are what this country is made of.

    RIP from an Air Force cold warrior....
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    James · 10 years ago
    They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
    Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
    They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
    They fell with their faces to the foe.
    They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
    We will remember them.
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    Tim Flanigan · 10 years ago
    Thank you, Colonel, for your great example. May God bless you and your family.
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    John Gorman · 10 years ago
    It gives me pride just to say his name. It is a privilege to include him in my prayers. Gods speed Americas son.
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    Robert Shearer · 10 years ago
    The soldiers lament, "for the good have all gone before us and only the evil are here" rings no truer than in the here and now. Go meet your God, he is brother who also wears wings.
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    Doc Ollie · 10 years ago
    I had the honor to serve under MAJOR Howard as a young buck sergeant instructor at Camp MacKall, NC @ 30 years ago. In those days, it was called Phase I of the SFQC. I recall that even during 'down time' between class rotations of students to our camp from Ft Bragg, "Bad Bob Howard" would put on his 70lb rucksack and go out and ruck 6-8 miles along the sandy roads and trails. He did this to serve as an example to us, his cadre, and to be ready for the SF candidates when they arrived for a month of basic special operations training. It was an honor and a privilege to have such man in command. US Army Special Forces has lost a legend and the Spec Ops community in general have lost a source of inspiration. De Opressor Liber CPT Ron Oliver, Retired
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    NavyDad · 10 years ago
    "For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain." (Bhagavad Gita 2.20) Certain souls are special. Col. Howard was certainly one of them. May his family take solace in that fact and know that he will hold a place for them.
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    Colonel Ret. Craig L · 10 years ago
    America, this is a real hero, not an actor, not a ball player or Olympic medal winner. This is the kind of American that allows all of us to enjoy the freedoms we have. This is a man that laid it all on the line for our country. I pray we have thousands of young Americans that want to be what Colonel Howard was... a true patriot. I pray for his family, friends, and all who respect this great American and hope they are comforted by the memory of the life this man lived. I mourn the loss of a hero and celebrate the life he lived.
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    MT JOE · 10 years ago
    What does one say? I am Humbled just reading about him. I will see you when I get there Bob.
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    David · 10 years ago
    Colonel Howard, For a soldier, your service perfectly exemplified the Marine's motto.
    Semper Fidelis -- Always Faithful
    Rest in peace, Sir.
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    SF Medic · 10 years ago
    De Oppresso Liber Boss, thanks for the inspiration and leadership. You are sorely missed in a world with too few heroes.
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    McCoin · 10 years ago
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    K. Hill · 10 years ago
    I had the priviledge to work with Colonel Howard for a few years here in San Antonio. He is without a doubt the most humble man I have ever known. Before I went to Afghanistan we sat down and talked for a few hours about life and things that happen in a theater of war. I cherish that time. I had a few opportunities to drive the Colonel to official functions at Brooke Army Medical Center. He would look at the guest list and tell me stories of all of the Field and General Grade Officers that were to be in attendance. He had most of them as students over the years. When he met children he would put out his hand and talk to them just as if they were the most important person in his life. My son still talks about the day he met Bob. I will greatly miss you colonel Howard. There are some out there who cannot come to grips with the fact that you are gone from your earthly bonds, put in a word for them, that they might find peace.
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    Pedro J · 10 years ago
    Bob Howard, thank you for your unequaled courage and perserverance in the numerous moments of truth that so few would ever survive. You have truly set the example for us to follow. Though your time in this life has come to an end, the crucial lessons you handed down to us are alive and well in the fight, both liberating the oppressed and seeing us through unforgiving odds. TTWDTOML
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    Tom Jones · 10 years ago
    Colonel (R) Robert L. Howard epitomizes what it means to be a man, a soldier and a commander. May he rest in peace at his new posting. Thank you Colonel. You humble us. May God hold you and your family always in His loving hands. Thank you also to those posting here who knew of, or served with him for your service as well. It is right and fitting that a warrior should be honored by other warriors. He may be gone but he most certainly will NOT be forgotten.

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