RIP Bob Howard: Reporting for Duty at the Elysian Fields

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Bobhoward One of the toughest men to ever live passes on to the everlasting. "If you love this country as an individual, you can make a difference." In one of my favorite posts of all time, my good friend (and Warcraft buddy) Claymore talked about playing with green army men and their fight during the battle of Miramar Drive. His post didn't get as much love as it deserved in my opinion, because I think it touches on everything that made childhood so wonderful. I might not have been an actual pirate or travel in space, but for moments I could just believe I was. But Pirate or Astronaut aside, what I wanted to be more than anything was a true war hero. Well, reality crushed all that, but as a kid, who wouldn't want that? It makes me wonder what Bob Howard thought before he passed on. Did he look back over his 70 years of life and smile and think to himself: "I became the man I wanted to be."? Just watch this video: How many of us can say we overcame all that he did, and excelled at that level? That's not even a rhetorical question, because the answer is none. The man was without peer. I heard him speak once and I text messaged some folks to talk about it, because I just can't even imagine how a man could get injured and return to combat, THIRTEEN times over. He was nominated for the MOH three times. Here's the one he was awarded:
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.
I looked at a lot of pictures of Col.  Howard today, and in each one he has this compelling smile. Not sure what it is exactly, but it touches something. Like he hates pictures, but also a man who is comfortable within himself, if not with the adulation. Go and look at his pictures on wiki so you can see what I mean. I'm watching a long interview with him right now that he gave at the Pritzker library. (Colonel Pritzker is a proud Legionnaire.) This is one of my favorite interviews at that site ever. It is possibly even better than the one that my buddy David Bellavia gave. But the defining feature of both of those interviews was Patriotism. Mr. Howard passed away two days before Christmas. Brian Williams paid an emotional tribute to him. In the interview at Pritzker, Col. Howard talks about his love of being airborne. He said that he loved it so much, because it made him feel closer to God. I don't know why that choked me up, but it did. I'd like to think that up in heaven Col. Howard stands at the door, waiting on the green light to jump. He spent his life seeking to liberate the oppressed (De oppresso liber) and I wonder if he is enjoying the relaxation he deserves in the afterlife, or if he's angling to get back into the fight. There's a prayer to St. Michael that goes:
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host - by the Divine Power of God - cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits, who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.
If that heavenly host ever comes down to protect me, I would feel a lot better if I saw that wry smile on the face of one of the angels in the vanguard.
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[...] Cross Posted from The Burn Pit. I generally avoid doing that, but everyone should know this man. Come comment over at my shop as well as here if you would. [...]

Seven Silver Stars, 4 Bronze Stars, 8 Purple Hearts, 2 DSC, 2 Masters Degrees. Wounded 14 times in a 54 month period and 5 tours. When he retired in 2006 as a Colonel he had served the American people for 50 years. God Bless You and Keep You Col. Howard.

God Bless you for you service. Airborne

There is no greater honor. The few people that even come close to this man's accomplishments are what has kept the fires burning for so many soldiers in harm's way. May He RIP.

Salute. May he rest with all those Soldiers that have embraced a higher calling and duty. He is an inspiration and tribute to the United States of America, and all. It is a shame Our President has overlooked his passing. This President is a neophyte and still far from understanding his place.

This Congress and Government will soon pass and the NWO will be a leaf in the wind and tinder in the fire. For all their power, it is for nought. Who can kindle dust. Like Babylon and the Tower, they will be confused and dispersed. For what end did they work! Their end, which is in flight and comes like the Eagle from above. Swift destruction of which they cannot escape.

Thank you for your service Bob. God Bless and may you Rest In Peace.
From a fellow Airborne Pathfinder.
NAM 68-69.

I had the priviledge of meeting COL Howard 4 or 5 times. The first time I was going through Airborne school at Fort Benning. He was a Captain and just assigned to the school. I will never forget when we were standing formation and he came out in the black T-shirt and black baseball cap and was introduced. I was in awe. Years later when I met him again I was taken back that he was only about 5'10" tall and not the 8' I remembered. He also was a somewhat thin and wiry build instead of the gigantic barrel chest I remembered. Obviously, the picture I remembered was not reality but it reflected the bigger than life impression he made on me. Then a few years later we were key note speakers at a 4th of July celebration in McAllen, Texas. All of the local dignitaries who were supposed to bring greetings (no more than 2 minutes) averaged 15 to 20 minutes. When it finally came to me I cut my speech to 10 minutes. While he was being introduced he leaned over to me and said that he did not know what else to say as everything had been covered. He spoke for about 5 minutes. What he said that day was not important. Who he was and what he had done said more than anything said by all of those speaking that day including me. I am glad I had the chance to know Bob Howard. I feel sorry for those who never had that chance.

Bob has a different set of wings now. God Bless you Bob and your family. People like you were my inspiration to serve and meet many among us who are of the highest of caliber. Words cannot express what kind of Warrior this man is. The more I say I fear I will take away what I want to express. All I know is this man is a real leader not a Hollywood wanna be. Can people really comprehend that he was in the middle of REAL bullets flying towards him and no one could yell CUT? Only those who have been there know in the face of death people like Bob are not afraid to WALK through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Because he knew whatever the outcome he would rather die himself than watch his brothers get killed and left behind. Please God set a place at your table for this Great Man. Please let him rest in peace now. Amen

we americans should be prout of Col Howard and there should be something done in memory of this fine man.

It makes me remember General MacArthur's note that "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away." Airborne is far more than a term, it is a way of life. A life Col. Howard personified. Airborne, Sir! All the Way!


dug out doug did not lead from the front, This man did. HE ALSO DID NOT JOIN THE NATIONAL GUARD TO AVOID COMBAT.

[...] Some people have big brass balls. Col Bob Howard will require a separate casket and headstone for his when he is interred. He was an MoH recipient once… but he was nominated for it three times. I can’t begin to do Col Howard justice so I will leave the writing to Mothax over at the Burn Pit. A peerless post about a peerless man. [...]

I've met several like you Col Howard in Korea '51 & '52...God bless you and may you rest in peace...

I did not have the privilege to know COL Howard personally. However, it is for men like him that inspired me to join the Army. I spent 12 years between the National Guard and Active Army, but served in distinguished units, for the most part as a Paratrooper myself. The integrity, humility, courage and tenacity of COL Howard's character defines what a true man of honor is, like many have said here, "without peer" and that there are only "several like you," COL Howard represents the finest that our country, our military and our faith has to offer. May he be acknowledged and an inspiration to the new generations of men and women who will answer that call of duty to serve in our Armed Forces, whether Officer or Enlisted, and especially those who answer the Higher calling of the ultimate sacrafice. GOD Bless and "Stand in the Door!" AIRBORNE, ALL THE WAY!!!

As a 35 year old, former Combat, Airborne, Infantry Officer I am saddened to how few young adults in our country aspire to join the military, much less acheive a career close to Col Howard's. They are all to satisfied with their abilities to play video games, tweet, blog, and do what ever they do these days. Our current Administration needs about 100+ Col. Howard's to combat terroism today. men like him could replace all of our "rent-a-cop" security agencies (TSA, DHLS, etc.) and take the fight to the enemy.

It is too bad that the American people had to see "Top Stories" of murders, rapists, and idiots on the nightly news, but few were priveledged to learn about an American Hero's passing.


It is sad that our heroes leave us with no public knowledge of their passing. It's as 1Lt. Smith pointed out no headlines, no fanfare, but hey our generation is used to this. FLY WITH THE ANGLES BROTHER IN ARMS.

A coward dies a thousand deaths the brave die but one. R.I.P. Sir R.V.N. 68-69. 366 Tac Fighter Wing, DaNang

I had the proud honor to serve under Col. Howard. He was a Capt. then, my Company Commander of Alpha Co. 2nd Ranger Bn. 2/75 INF, 1975 - 77.

It is an honor to be American because of men like this,may he rest in peace,Beriut 83,84

Whether we knew him or not, we all have lost just a little bit today. RIP Colonel.

And the gates of Valhalla will swing open to receive its latest hero. What kind of monument can be built for this man that can eclipse the accolades given him by those that knew him or served in the same theater of war. He has set a standard of excellence that should be a shining beacon for all who serve in the military. God bless you sir and may you keep heaven straight.

COL Howard was my company commander when I was a rookie. He had a certain awe about him that only great leaders are blessed with. I would then and would now follow him down the barrel of a Chinese cannon.

I'm the "Desert Storm" generation of soldier but I read stories like this, of which there are far too few, and saying, "Now there is a man" or "Now there is a hero" just falls short. All I can say is, "Now there is a PATRIOT, and we are the sadder for his passing. God bless you COL Howard.


As a Viet Nam Veteran,and losing my brother in that War,Who also was highly decorated,I am proud to be part of an ear of soldiers,Airmen,Sailors,Marines,who were like Brian said a rare and vanishing breed of young men and women!We di d what we were asked,and most of us never got the time of the day for serving and sacrificing our souls,lives,to keep America free!President Richard Nixon,gave me a letter of commendation also,and my brother died one month before I was called to go.I had to come home on emergency leave to accept his medals from the Army at Fort Holabird,Maryland in 1966,and my Mom and I never forgot that day! As of date ,I still can not sleep, and am past flash backs now,but the love and memories of such great men never die,nor does ones love for them!The Colonel,like me and others went from field soldier to leaders the hard way,and we were the few who live to tell our story to the new ,younger troops today.America must never forget what us Viet Nam Veterans did,as we were the most forgotten in American History!Thanks to all Our Troops and God Bless them all !Chief Crissey,USAF<USA<US DOD<Retired.

I am the only family member who served in the military after my Father who was in WWII B-25's. What a powerful patriot Col Robert Howard was, he should remain as a permanent fixture at Ft. Bragg, Ranger School and his beloved Special Forces. Suffice to say I respect every Veteran and some especially more--I love the Enlisted becoming an Officer especially in the combat arms field. I am sending this web site to my one brother, three sisters and their husbands including my nephews and nieces, I am so proud of Col Howard. God grant him peace and happiness in the next life.

I salute you Colonel Bob Howard and I pledge to you that I will do all in my power to advance the cause of Liberty as long as I live.
I will continue to honor my sacred oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies both foreign and domestic so help me God. I will honor you and my brothers who have gone before me with my life and service.

I personally feel that the best way to honor heroes like Colonel Howard is to pick up the torch in whatever capacity we can and join the fight to save our Republic from the Marxist assault that is now attempting to destroy it. All of you who are active or retired military, active or retired police and those who have taken an oath to support and defend our Constitution should take a look at and join Oathkeepers. The web site is

God bless our nation and give us many defenders of Liberty like Colonel Bob Howard.

@ Bob Walton- Not entirely on target here, since we have no idea what Col Howard's position was on the Oath Keepers. But, I'll let it stand.

The American Legion has no position whatsoever on the Oath Keepers, just as an FYI.

When you contrast this American hero with many in our government who are making life and death decisions concerning our military, Colonel Howard looms even larger, than he was. The Colonel Howards of the world are a lasting example of how great one individual can be. How large a difference one individual can make. One part of the legacy he leaves is this example and inspiration'
Rest In Peace Colonel, Salute.

We met during the Vietnam War. It was only an SF NCO Club encounter. At that time he had a presence that everyone felt. His friends, Fred Zabitosky (MOH) & Emmet Kay (Air America), were amazed with what he had pulled of on many missions. He should have been the hero of the Vietnam War like Sgt. York & Audie Murphy.

My memory can't recall if I ever met the col., but I've known many paratroopers like him, maybe not as decorated, but as couragious anf dedicated to their country. I must give credit to some of the," old war horses", that were there befor us. These individuals had been serving since befor or during wwii. They weren't there for the money, or because they couldn't make in the civ. worled, they were there because their sons and grandsons were now at war and needed their experience. I know the Col is off to join his mentors. And AIRBORNE TO YOU!

Go in peace Col. Howard, and be whole. We should all thank God that there are men like you, for today we no longer have men of your caliber in our government, but we do have many bottom feeders.

I'm not qualified to write anything ... Col Howard already said it, done it and completed it. Now I can only pray I can continue following him, maybe he and I can start something, only God knows. R.I.P. Col.

It has ben a long time sence Vietnam. Col Bob Howard , I did not know him,God bless You.

God bless you may you rest in peace, you were & are a real hero not like the movie stars & athletes that pretend to be,again God bless you & thank you for courage and service to our country.

Rest now Sir, for your task on this mission is complete. We have the honour of knowing you did it well. Bless you and God's Speed.

Rest in Peace my good man! It is boys that go into service and become men like you that have kept our country strong all these years. The Hollywood of today hasn't a clue as to the real worth of service to our country, God bless you on your final journey, I salute you for your service.

As a young child to this day, my Dad (Turk; Seabee WWII) taught us to always 'respect and honor' our Countries Hero's. Col. Howard was and is a true blue American hero example of all that our Nation stands for. Throughout his military and civilian life, Col. Howard ensured that we would have peace; through his beliefs, strength and courage, which all put together guarenteed the rest of us our freedom. Col. Howard, Thank you for all that you have given us.

WW11 Navy Veteran Says.

Through our Military lives, we have all shed a tear. One of sorrow and one of Joy. For Rob Howard it is both. The one of joy is that he will live in our memories, and with thanks for all that he gave to all of us. The one of sorrow, was to lose him before his time.
Eternal rest grant Col. Rob O Lord and may perpetual light shine upon you and may your soul rest in peace. God Bless you.
Thank you for all that you have given to all of us, and make us so proud to be an American.

Bob Howard, Charlie-Mike on those tank trails above! B.Co 128th Iron Combat Brigade Salutes You!

In a society where so-called "sports heroes" and Hollywood celebrities are worshipped as heroes comes the real deal. Thank you Bob Howard for being the real American hero we can all look up to.

I salute the Colonel and pray that the young soldiers of today know about those like Howard and aspire to be his caliber of leader (2D INF Div/101ABN/MACV)

[...] RIP Bob Howard: Reporting for Duty at the Elysian Fields « BurnPit [...]

He story reminds me of something I heard many years ago in Nam:

"You have never lived until you have almost died, for those who have had to fight for it, life has a flavor the protected never Know!!"

R.I.P. to a Warrior who knew life's full flavor....

If anyone is wondering if there is a higher power than here on earth, you should know the answer now. Men like Col Howard were sent here with a purpose. He more than fulfilled that purpose by far. The people of America should know of him and continue to support our troops who are fighting the most important war of our time, TERROR. I will continue to spread the history of this man and his heroic's as long as I live. And to the Col, I know God has you in his kingdom serving him now. SEMPER FI from an old Marine 1977-1983. And thank you for your services to our country.

God Blessed us with your presence in our lives Col Howard. Now he rewards you with your final duty. Had I the privilege of serving more under leaders like you I would have served longer. You are among our best. You are the glue that holds us together. You are the salt of our earth. HUUUUUAGHHHH! to you, Sir. You have truly earned your new wings.

Make a hole Heaven, a true hero coming through.....

Col. Howard, God put you here for a reason and that was to make you the brave man that you are. You served your country in the best honor any man could do..Your in Gods hands now. It's time to relax.....Sgt. Frank Church USMC, 1968-1972..

I salute and honor Col Howard. I can't remember meeting him personnally, but I have had the pleasure of meeting several MOH personnel. God Bless America. US Army Spec Forces 1969-1972


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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.