Over the years SOFREP has written several articles about the legendary paratrooper and Army Special Forces Colonel Robert J. Howard who really doesn’t need any elaborate introduction here. But if you’ve just returned from a 40-year stay on the Moon you can read more about him in the links below before you go on.

Colonel Robert J. Howard.

Special Forces Honor Col Bob Howard (MOH) With Building Dedication At Camp MacCall.

Enough Heart; The Legend Of A Special Forces Operator And Medal Of Honor Recipient.

There are dozens of stories about Colonel Howard. At one time was said to be the most decorated soldier still on active duty until his retirement in 1992. After retirement, he worked just as hard to take care of veterans while employed by the VA and even visited the troops in Iraq. By all accounts, he was a simple, humble, and incredibly brave soldier. But I don’t think the story you’re about to read has ever been told. It’s about what Colonel Howard had to go through just so the Army could hang the Medal of Honor around his neck. Like almost everything in the life of this extraordinary soldier, even the news that he was being awarded the Medal of Honor would bring its own perils.

It was late February 1971, Howard had received a direct commission in 1969 and was back in Vietnam again. He was now a captain and company commander at a base near Kon Tum near the borders of Laos and Cambodia and leading a series of Special Forces small unit operations into Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam. As Colonel Howard described it in an interview for the Veterans History Project his unit was comprised of 218 men broken down into teams of six to eight men.

Operating out of this same base on December 30, 1968, Howard had been nominated for the Medal of Honor while a member of a 40-man Bright Light rescue mission. The men were searching for PFC Robert Scherdin who been separated from a SOG reconnaissance team in northeastern Cambodia. Inserted by helicopters and immediately attacked by NVA forces they fought their way out of the LZ to try and reach their objective. Howard and his Jerson, his lieutenant, were then ambushed and both badly wounded by a land mine. Temporarily blinded by the blast, he nevertheless crawled to LT Jerson, administered first-aid, and pulled him off the hill and out of the ambush. Howard then organized the remaining 20 men of his platoon and directed fire for over three-and-a-half hours until they were finally extracted by helicopter. Howard was very badly wounded but nevertheless, he was the last man to board a helicopter. His lieutenant did not survive his injuries.

Now more than two years later and a long hospital stay, Howard was back at this same camp, while his nomination for the MOH languished in the bureaucracy.