The Special Forces Sergeant pulled the small rectangular Claymore mine from its pouch. Though he couldn’t see the Soviet-built truck, he smelled its fumes. The distinctive low rasp of its diesel engine spewed a heavy, acrid odor that hung under the dense jungle canopy for hundreds of yards.

Unwinding the detonation wire, he sensed the vehicle coming closer, absent of any light in this the darkest of nights. He rested on his boots ready to spring, the mine in one hand and its detonator in the other. A warm rush of air and dust washed over him as the vehicle passed, and he leapt to the road running alongside it.

With just enough taut in the wire, he began to twirl the Claymore over his head like a lasso. He slowed a bit letting the truck get ahead. Timing it perfectly, midway through a twirl he released the Claymore, its wire unfurling as it clanked onto the rear deck between the legs of unsuspecting North Vietnamese Army soldiers.

Vanishing back into the bush, he waited a couple more seconds as more trucks passed, then clicked the detonator. Sparks and flame roared skyward as the truck disintegrated, raining molten metal and smoldering body parts down upon the hoods and roofs of the stunned column swerving to avoid smashing into the sizzling hulk.

Hearing voices shouting on the road, he summoned his Recon Team into formation and they melted back into the jungle, leaving the embers of his work burning for several minutes, as the startled caretakers of the Ho Chi Minh trail struggled to push aside the glowing wreckage so the tangled column could resume its trek to the South Vietnamese border.

For some of the soldiers, clambering back aboard the same kind of vehicle those minutes before had met a fiery end on a seemingly quiet part of the road, left them agonizing over a simple thought the rest of the night…

Who did this?

The Greatest Soldier America Never Knew

For those who knew Robert Howard, however, such exploits were commonplace for a man who served time and again as an example of courage and patriotism to all during a period when the nation he fought for struggled find its way through a turbulent decade. When the war finally ended and the protests faded, Howard stood alone as a soldier whose combat decorations exceeded those of World War II’s Audie Murphy.