SOLDIER STORIES: Badass of the Week— Colonel Robert L. Howard, America’s Most Highly Decorated Soldier

[Excerpt from blogpost by Gary Williams, 4 September 2012. Source. Click through for full blog article including all three MOH recommendation citations. (via Seal of Honor)]

Born on July 11, 1939 in Opelika, Alabama, Robert L. Howard was seventeen years old when he traveled to Mobile and joined the Army on July 20, 1956. Howard came from a long line of military soldiers with his father and four uncles having served as paratroopers in World War II. Young Howard followed in their footsteps joining the 101st Airborne. Little did the recruiter know that he was enlisting an individual destined to become a legend in America’s armed forces.

Military Awards and Decorations:

  • Medal of Honor (Three recommendation)
  • Distinguished Service Cross, 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
  • Silver Star
  • Bronze Star Medal with “V” device & Meritorious Achievement, 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Purple Heart, 7 Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Defense Superior Service Medal
  • Air Medal for Valor, 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Legion of Merit, 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Air Medal for Aerial Flight
  • Army Commendation Medal for Valor, 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Army Meritorious Service medal, 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Army Commendation Medal, 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Joint Service Commendation Medal
  • Joint Service Achievement Medal
  • Good Conduct Medal, 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Vietnam Service Medal
  • Vietnam Service Medal
  • NCO Professional Development Ribbon with “2″ device
  • Army Overseas Ribbon
  • Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Army Presidential Unit Citation, 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
  • Presidential Unit Citation (US) 2001, Studies & Observation Group
  • Navy Valorous Unit Citation
  • Army Meritorious Unit Citation
  • Vietnam Campaign Medal with “60″ device
  • Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star (Corps Citation)
  • Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star (Division Citation)
  • Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star (Regiment or Brigade Citation)
  • Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal, 2nd Award
  • Vietnam Wound Medal
  • Vietnam Civil Actions Medal, 2nd Award
  • Vietnam Cross of Gallantry Unit Citation with Palm, 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
  • Republic of Korea Order of National Security Merit (Samil Medal)
  • Ranger Tab
  • Special Forces Tab
  • Combat Infantryman Badge
  • Aircraft Crewman’s Badge
  • Master Parachutist Badge
  • Pathfinder Badge
  • Air Assault Badge
  • Expert Infantryman’s Badge
  • Vietnamese Ranger Badge
  • Vietnamese Master Parachutist Badge
  • Thai Master Parachute Wings
  • Korean Master Parachute Badge
  • Thai Balloonist Badge
  • French Parachutist Badge

Other Military Awards:

  • Honor Man graduate of his Ranger Course
  • Honor Man graduate of his Pathfinder Course
  • Honor Man graduate of his Parachute Rigger School
  • Outstanding Infantry Officer, Command and General Staff College, 1979-1980
  • National War College, Class of 1987-1988.

After 36 years of unparalleled military service, 33 of those years in airborne status, Colonel Robert L. Howard retired from active duty on September 29, 1992, having arguably become this Nation’s most decorated combat soldier. His retirement was a direct result of a parachuting accident that resulted in his having a Harrington rod inserted into his spine, resulting in his total disability.

If not for the covert nature of his work, it must be argued that Howard would be this Nation’s only Medal of Honor recipient with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, a feat never accomplished, thereby making him without question, this Nation’s most highly decorated soldier.

Colonel Robert Howard died on December 23, 2009 from Pancreatic cancer and was buried with full military honors on February 22, 2010 at Arlington National Cemetery.

Notes

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    Holy shit.
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    Reading this gave me goosebumps. Talk about being outstanding…
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  20. militarymom said: The sad thing is that I’ve never knew of him before now. =/
  21. soldierporn posted this