One hundred men will test today but only three win the Green Beret.
 

COL Robert L. Howard, Hall of Heroes

Robert L. Howard entered the Army at Montgomery,  Alabama and retired as Colonel.

As a staff sergeant of the highly-classified Military Assistance Command, Vietnam - Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG), Howard was recommended for the Medal of Honor on three separate occasions for three individual actions during thirteen months spanning 1967-1968. The first two nominations were downgraded to the award of the Distinguished Service Cross due to the covert nature of the operations in which Howard participated. As a Sergeant First Class of the same organization, he risked his life during a rescue mission in Cambodia on December 30, 1968, while second in command of a platoon-sized Hornet force that was searching for missing American soldier Robert Scherdin, and was finally awarded the Medal of Honor.

While leading a covert SOG platoon-sized mission in southeastern Laos on November 16, 1967, Sergeant First Class Howard carried out actions that led to his being recommended for his nation’s highest honor. While the main body destroyed an enemy cache, Howard’s team came upon four North Vietnamese Army soldiers, whom he shot. The team was then pinned down by heavy machine gun fire. Howard first eliminated a sniper and then charged the machine gun position, killing its occupants. When a second machine gun opened up, he crawled forward to within point-blank range and threw a hand grenade, disabling that gun.

When more of the North Vietnamese took over the same gun, Howard stood in the open and fired a light anti-tank weapon, knocking it out once again. The team was then successfully extracted by helicopter. Although recommended for the Medal of Honor, Howard’s award was downgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross. This would be the first of three recommendations within 13 months for the Medal of Honor for Robert Howard.

In mid-November Howard accompanied an FOB-2 Hatchet Platoon into Laos. After four days in the area, on November 19, 1968, the force was ambushed by Vietnamese troops, including a Soviet-built PT-76 tank. Braving intense fire, Howard crept forward and knocked out the PT-76 with an anti-tank rocket. After a medivac helicopter was shot down, Howard, already wounded, charged forward 300 yards through North Vietnamese fire to lead the two pilots and a wounded door gunner to safety. He was again wounded, this time by 14 pieces of shrapnel, but all that this seemed to do was aggravate him.

He charged the Vietnamese, killed two and dragged back a third as a prisoner. North Vietnamese anti-aircraft fire halted the extraction of the platoon until the following morning, when Howard, already perforated multiple times, moved forward and silenced a 37 mm anti-aircraft gun, allowing the extraction to be completed. For the second time, Howard was recommended for the Medal of Honor, but his award was again downgraded to a Distinguished Service Cross.

This series of events illustrates the difficulties faced when special operations personnel exhibited extraordinary bravery in denied areas. Recommendations for decorations always stipulated the location and circumstances of the action, and since the award of such a high decoration became public knowledge, the citation would have to be changed to place the action within territorial South Vietnam. The U.S. Congress and President were loath to create any sense of falsehood about the actions of the nation’s most highly decorated military personnel, so, in many instances, awards were downgraded to keep the recipient out of the limelight.

On December 30, 1968 Howard was serving as a member of a 40-man Bright Light rescue mission into northeastern Cambodia. The unit was in search of MACSOG Private First Class Robert Scherdin, who had been separated from his recon team. Bypassing a North Vietnamese Army company, Howard was leading his men up a hill when he and Lieutenant Jim Jerson were wounded by a land mine. While administering first aid to Jerson, a bullet struck one of the wounded man’s ammunition pouches, detonating several magazines. His fingers in shreds, Howard was dragging Jerson off the hill when he was shot in the foot.

The remaining 20 men were organized by Howard, who administered first aid, directed their fire, and encouraged them to resist. After three and one-half hours under attack, Howard prepared for a fight to the death. The team was saved from that fate, however, when an emergency night extraction took them off without any further casualties. As badly wounded as he was, Howard was the last man to board a helicopter. After his third recommendation in 13 months, Robert Howard was finally awarded a well-deserved Medal of Honor.

Perhaps no man represented the quandary of the political and moral dilemma of the Vietnam War in the heart and mind of America better than Howard. He had become arguably the most highly decorated serviceman in American military history, yet few of his countrymen even knew who he was. Unlike Alvin York or Audie Murphy before him, Howard was not touted as a national hero by the media, he was given no ticker tape parade, and no Hollywood movie was made depicting his extraordinary exploits. Of course, none of this bothered the quiet, unassuming Howard. He remained in the Army and retired as a full Colonel, after 36 years of active service, in September 1992.

It is believed by some historians that Howard is the most highly-decorated living American soldier in history. His residence was in Texas and he spent much of his free time working with veterans at the time of his death. He also took periodic trips to Iraq to visit active duty troops.

Medal of Honor Citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Howard (then Sfc .), distinguished himself while serving as platoon sergeant of an American-Vietnamese platoon which was on a mission to rescue a missing American soldier in enemy controlled territory in the Republic of Vietnam. The platoon had left its helicopter landing zone and was moving out on its mission when it was attacked by an estimated 2-company force. During the initial engagement, 1st Lt. Howard was wounded and his weapon destroyed by a grenade explosion. 1st Lt. Howard saw his platoon leader had been wounded seriously and was exposed to fire. Although unable to walk, and weaponless, 1st Lt. Howard unhesitatingly crawled through a hail of fire to retrieve his wounded leader. As 1st Lt. Howard was administering first aid and removing the officer's equipment, an enemy bullet struck 1 of the ammunition pouches on the lieutenant's belt, detonating several magazines of ammunition. 1st Lt. Howard momentarily sought cover and then realizing that he must rejoin the platoon, which had been disorganized by the enemy attack, he again began dragging the seriously wounded officer toward the platoon area. Through his outstanding example of indomitable courage and bravery, 1st Lt. Howard was able to rally the platoon into an organized defense force. With complete disregard for his safety, 1st Lt. Howard crawled from position to position, administering first aid to the wounded, giving encouragement to the defenders and directing their fire on the encircling enemy. For 3 1/2 hours 1st Lt. Howard's small force and supporting aircraft successfully repulsed enemy attacks and finally were in sufficient control to permit the landing of rescue helicopters. 1st Lt. Howard personally supervised the loading of his men and did not leave the bullet-swept landing zone until all were aboard safely. 1st Lt. Howard's gallantry in action, his complete devotion to the welfare of his men at the risk of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

His awards include:

Medal of Honor 
Distinguished Service Cross (with one oak leaf cluster) 
Silver Star 
Defense Superior Service Medal 
Legion of Merit (with three oak leaf clusters) 
Bronze Star (with three oak leaf clusters and "V" device) 
Purple Heart (with a silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters) 
Meritorious Service Medal (with two oak leaf clusters) 
Air Medal (with "V" Device and numeral 3. One award for heroism and two for aerial achievement) 
Joint Service Commendation 
Army Commendation Medal (with "V" device and one each silver and bronze oak leaf clusters. 4 awards for valor and 3 for achievement) 
Joint Service Achievement 
Army Achievement 
Good Conduct Medal, 4 Good Conduct Loops (4 awards) 
National Defense Service Medal 
Armed Forces Reserve Medal 
Vietnam Service Medal 
NCO Professional Development Ribbon with 2 device 
Army Overseas Ribbon 
Army Service Ribbon 
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, w/3 Service stars (3 awards) 
Army Presidential Unit Citation, 1st Oak Leaf Cluster 
  Presidential Unit Citation (United States) 2001, Studies and Observations Group 
Navy Unit Commendation 
Army Meritorious Unit Citation

Foreign decorations 
Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60 device 
Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star (Corps citation) 
Vietnamese 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, 1st Oak Leaf Cluster (Unit citation) 
Republic of Korea Order of National Security Merit (Samil Medal)

Badges, qualifications and tabs 
Ranger Tab 
Special Forces Tab 
Combat Infantryman Badge 
Aircrew Badge 
Master Parachutist Badge 
Pathfinder Badge 
Air Assault Badge 
Expert Infantryman's Badge 
Vietnamese Ranger Badge 
Vietnamese Master Parachute Badge 
Thai Master Parachute Wings 
Korean Master Parachute Badge 
Thai Balloonist Badge 
French Parachutist Badge

 

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Categories: SPECIAL FORCES MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS, Hall of HeroesNumber of views: 12686

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We are former and current Green Berets who find and investigate those who falsely claim to be a Green Beret. We will never out someone unless we are 100% certain via FOIA and Bragg.

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Recent comments

Rick Upton:

Why is he working for the VA?

RobertEddy:

First of all, thank you folks for what you do, what you’ve done, and what you’re willing to do.

Secondly, it is my hope that Mr Prouix owns up to his lies. I have been watching this story and it disgusts me that there are people who would assume to receive the accolades deserved, but never sought, by better, braver, stronger men.

Mr Prouix needs to be exposed. Well done.

EVERYTHINGREALLY:

This is almost unbelievable. This guy wanted to be a Green Beret so bad he faked it to the grave. It must have been awesome to him to take on a persona. Feeling like a hero, getting recognition, and being treated like a hero in addition to fellowship with real warriors was too much to pass up. It must have felt good. I'm sure he could have joined the military. He just didn't think it was worth it. He could have everything without dropping a single iota of blood, sweat, or tears. I feel sorry for his family. This guy is to me obviously mentally ill. I guess he never thought he would hurt and shame his family to the extent he ended up doing so. To any potential fakers. Let this guy be a lesson to you. If you want what we have, just join the military. Don't do this to your family and friends.

EVERYTHINGREALLY:

I just want to thank Guardians of the Green Beret. I had no idea this problem was so widespread. These phonies do a great disservice to all us real Green Berets. Yes, I am a Green Beret. They give a false representation of who we are, what we are, and what we represent. These phonies are almost always criminal otherwise in my opinion. Good job Guardians of the Green Beret. People probably don't realize what it would be like for me to ever actually meet a phony Green Beret. Offensive is not the word. I don't think there is a word for all the things that would go through my mind.

guywholikesgbsalot:

is that white shirt even a thing? i never knew that

Johnny O:

Ol' "Sarge" here talking all kinds of crap and stuff after he was exposed...LOL

Johnny O:

It's really pathetic that people try to get away with this type of stuff. I spent 23 years in the Army and retired in 2006 and although would have loved to to be a part of a Special Forces or Ranger unit and go through all of the training, never did it. And it just amazes me the lengths that people will go through to embellish military service.

Jacob Martin:

Question: There's a photo of him with two "fatboys" wearing berets, are either of them actually SF? The one in the middle sure doesn't wear his beret correctly (might be an officer)! lol

LoriKat:

Impressive bio. Rambo, Ralph Macchio (Karate Kid) and Chuck Norris all rolled into one. They have a song named for him "Superman, Where Are You Now".

LoriKat:

I don't know much about a military uniform BUT his pants are WAY too long...they bunch up on tops of his shoes and basically drag the ground in the back. Also, there was a pic of him with a lady...outside...without a cover. Hmm.

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