EXPIRED: 12/23/09 – Robert L. Howard, 70, a Medal of Honor recipient of the Vietnam War, was believed by some historians to be the most highly-decorated living American soldier in history.
He entered the United States 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 13 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 he 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.
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.
Post war, Howard lived in Texas and spent much of his free time working with veterans. He also took periodic trips to Iraq to visit active duty troops.