Following in the footsteps of a long line of paratroopers, Robert Howard joined the Army at 17-years-old. After basic training, he was sent to Vietnam and would serve five tours with the U.S. Army Special Forces.
Fighting in Vietnam
In a single 13 month deployment, Howard had three different acts of heroism that got him nominated for three Medals of Honor. In addition, since two of his acts of heroism were done covertly, he was given Distinguished Service Crosses.
Howard went on a search and rescue mission to locate missing American soldiers who were lost and in enemy territory. Enemy forces attacked him and his platoon.
Many men were injured, but Howard and his men continued to engage with the enemy for four hours. They were rewarded for their persistence because the enemy eventually retreated.
Howard was injured in the skirmish but made sure that everyone left the battlefield. For his heroism in the rescue mission, President Richard Nixon presented him with the Medal of Honor on March 2, 1971.
In the 54 months he served in Vietnam, he was wounded 14 times. He was awarded two Distinguished Service Crosses, a Silver Star, the Defense Superior Service Medal, four Legion of Merit awards, four Bronze Stars, and eight Purple Hearts.
All of his medals made him one of the most highly decorated soldiers in United States history. He retired in 1992 after 36 years in the military.
His rank was a colonel. Howard died in December of 2009.