MOST DECORATED PARATROOPER IN VIETNAM WAR
Robert L. Howard grew up in Opelika, Alabama and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1956 at age seventeen. He 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. These men carried out some of the most daring and dangerous missions ever conducted by the U.S. military. The understrength 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 submitted for the Medal of Honor the third time for his extraordinary heroism.
Although Robert L. Howard’s gallant deeds have gone virtually unrecognized by the media and unknown to most of the American public, he is said to be our nation’s most decorated soldier from the Vietnam War. He was the last Vietnam Special Forces Medal of Honor recipient still on active duty when he retired on Sept. 29, 1992. His story is told in John Plaster’s excellent book, SOG The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam
It is important for future generations that we remember our military heroes and the great sacrifices they have made for us in the name of Freedom.
Excerpt from John Plaster’s recent book SECRET COMMANDOS Behind Enemy Lines with the Elite Warriors of SOG – pg. 303:
“The day that President Nixon draped the Medal of Honor’s pale blue ribbon around Howard’s neck, I sat before the TV in my parents’ living room watching the evening news. Coming on top of his previous decorations – the Distinguished Service Cross and multiple Silver and Bronze Stars, plus eight Purple Hearts – Howard’s combat awards exceeded those of Audie Murphy, America’s legendary World War II hero, until then our most highly decorated serviceman. At last, Howard would get his due. I flipped station to station, but not one of the networks – not CBS or NBC or ABC – could find ten seconds to mention Captain Robert Howard or his indomitable courage. I found nothing about him in the newspapers. Twisted by the antiwar politics of that era, many in the media believed that to recognize a heroic act was to glorify war. They simply chose not to cover the ceremony. It might as well not have happened.”
NOTE: In 1917, the laws governing the award of the Medal of Honor ended all DOUBLE awards of the Medal of Honor. Click here for more information
Wounded 14 times in 54 months of combat duty in Vietnam,
Robert Howard was awarded 8 Purple Hearts and is believed
to be the most decorated living American.
Other MACV-SOG (CCC) Medal of Honor recipients. Click on photo to read their citation.
Presented by the President in the name of Congress, it is
the highest honor that can be bestowed upon any American.
The men who wear it call themselves “recipients” (not
winners), for what they received it for was not a contest…it
was a time of terror and death where their valor was tested,
then recognized by a grateful Nation. All of them feel that they
didn’t win The Medal…they RECEIVED it. Frequently called
“The Congressional Medal of Honor”, it’s true title is simply:
MEDAL OF HONOR
Only 3,448 Americans have been awarded Medals of Honor.
Today only 99 of them survive.