Medal of Honor
HOWARD, JIMMIE E.
Rank and organization: Gunnery Sergeant (then S/Sgt.) U.S. Marine Corps, Company C, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division
Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 16 June 1966
Entered service at: Burlington, Iowa
Born: 27 July 1929, Burlington, Iowa
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty. G/Sgt. Howard and his 18-man platoon were occupying an observation post deep within enemy-controlled territory. Shortly after midnight a Viet Cong force of estimated battalion size approached the Marines' position and launched a vicious attack with small arms, automatic weapons, and mortar fire. Reacting swiftly and fearlessly in the face of the overwhelming odds, G/Sgt. Howard skillfully organized his small but determined force into a tight perimeter defense and calmly moved from position to position to direct his men's fire. Throughout the night, during assault after assault, his courageous example and firm leadership inspired and motivated his men to withstand the unrelenting fury of the hostile fire in the seemingly hopeless situation. He constantly shouted encouragement to his men and exhibited imagination and resourcefulness in directing their return fire. When fragments of an exploding enemy grenade wounded him severely and prevented him from moving his legs, he distributed his ammunition to the remaining members of his platoon and proceeded to maintain radio communications and direct air strikes on the enemy with uncanny accuracy. At dawn, despite the fact that 5 men were killed and all but 1 wounded, his beleaguered platoon was still in command of its position. When evacuation helicopters approached his position, G/Sgt. Howard warned them away and called for additional air strikes and directed devastating small-arms fire and air strikes against enemy automatic weapons positions in order to make the landing zone as secure as possible. Through his extraordinary courage and resolute fighting spirit, G/Sgt. Howard was largely responsible for preventing the loss of his entire platoon. His valiant leadership and courageous fighting spirit served to inspire the men of his platoon to heroic endeavor in the face of overwhelming odds, and reflect the highest credit upon G/Sgt. Howard, the Marine Corps, and the U.S. Naval Service.
Gunnery Sergeant Jimmie E. Howard receiving the Medal of Honor from President Lyndon Baines Johnson
Thanks to Commander Michael Kane, USCG, ( MKane@msoportme.uscg.mil) for the photos of the November, 1999 launching of DDG 83 / The USS Howard from the famous and historic Bath Shipyard, Bath, Maine. Commander Kane also provided an image of the crest of the DDG83/USS Howard "Ready for Victory"
The following message was received on 23 April 2001
I remember Sgt. Clautery D Co. 1st Recon. Bat. I'm Cpl Harris from his Co. We were there the night Jimmie howard got hit - next hill over. They hit us first but could't get to us cause of the steep terain. They left us around 10 pm that night to go for Howard's Observation Post. I just thought I'd tell someone.
Cpl.William D.Harris USMC 1964--1968 Chu Lai May 1966 - Nov-1966 1st recon.
1901 Plum St.
Montgomery Alabama 36107
The following message was received on 15 July 2000:
Attached is a photo of Jimmie Howard's headstone at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego,California.
I am not related to Howard, nor did I know him. This picture was taken by my son-in-law, Scott Cleaver, a few days ago while he was visiting the grave of my wife's mother, who happens to be buried near Jimmie Howard.
The following message was received on 3 December 2000
I spend little time on the computer and when I tried to see what was available regarding CMH recepients, I was elated to see the story of Jimmie Howard. I was equally distraught to see he had passed on several years ago.
In August 1965 I mounted out with the First Med. Bn., First Mar. Div. from Camp Pendleton. With us was a SSGT, Jimmie Howard and a First Class P.O. Corpsman whose name I can't remember. He and Jimmie were real tight.We were told we were destined for Da Nang. We went over on an AKA and at least one APA, along with an assortment of other ships. Enroute (while due north of Hawaii) we we advised that our destination had been changed to Camp Hansen, Okinawa. It was explained that the corpsmen, doctors, and Marine contingency that had been assigned there was being moved down to Da Nang because things had gotten real bad there and another hospital was needed in the area. Th corpsmen, doctors, and Marines had already been through all the NTA counter gurella warfare training and we hadn't. Thus, they were prefered over us guys who hadn't had all the specialized training.
We landed at Naha on about August 18, 1965 and were trucked up the road to Camp Hansen. There, we manned the dispensary for eight months. It was really a good eight months too. We felt like we were shirking our duties but we did have legitimate casualties we were serving at Hansen.
During our time there we all underwent heavy-duty counter gureilla warfare training, jungle survival and all that stuff. Still amongst us were Jimmie Howard and the 1st Class Corpsman. Jimmie was real discontent because he wanted to be in "Force Recon" We heard his complaints daily about wanting to be out where the action was. Our Corpsman (the 1st Class) really looked up to Jimmie and wanted to go along with him. Don't take this wrong, Jimmie recognized the importance of our Medical Unit having good support, but he just felt there were lots of Marines capable of handling that joband that it was a "bit beneath him".
I don't know how they accomplished it but one day Jimmie and the Corpsman disappeared and we latter learned they had gotten transferred to Recon.
In late January, we got the call to "MOUNT OUT", pack our gear, head for Naha and sail to Chu Lai. We landed on the beach at about 1600 and began to unload. It was mostly uneventlful but the nearby VC's gave us a few incoming rounds to welcome us and remind us to stay on our towes.
By 2000 we had our GP Tent hospital set up and operational. It was a good thing too. We immediately began receivieing casualties, MASS CASUALTIES. It went on for at least 96 hour straight. At 23, I was an old man there and comforting these 18 to 20 year old kids as they watched death surround them it was difficult to keep them focused on the job at hand. They really performed well, proved their worth, and became seasoned corpsmen and "counselors" overnight.
I could tell you lots of stories between that date and the date Jimmie Howard, our 1st Class Corpsman, and Jimmie's Platoon got stuck on the little hill just south of Chu Lai. Was it called Hill 214 or Hill 314"? I can't remember. In fact, I don't know how much of this is fact and how much is my failing memory.
I recall that we (Operating Room Technicians), the X-ray Technicians, Surgeons, Chaplains, and other suppport corpsmen and Marines were rousted out at about 0230 to prepare for incoming casualties. It was odd this time because someone had set up radios in our Shock and Debriedment Tent so we could hear the transmissions between Jimmie's radiomen and the Mag 33 chopper units who were trying to go in and get them out. I'm sure there were lots of others on the radio sending air support and any other means of assistance.
Again, now, this is my recall and may be off the mark of reality somewhat. But, I recall that the first three choppers sent in to extract Jimmie's Platoon had great difficulty and I think one or two may have even gone down in the effort to extract Jimmie's unit. Anyway, they were finally extracted and enroute to us. It didn't take twenty minutes for them to arrive once they were loaded on the choppers.
When Jimmie and the platoon arrived we were shocked. At least five were dead and most, if not all the others were badly wounded. The Corpsman had a round or sharapnel through his eye (the left eye I believe) and he was unconcious. We immediatley Medevacked him on to Da Nang where there was a neuro surgeon. We were told a few hours later that our Corpsman had died enroute. We gave him up for dead and mourned greatly that night.
Once the choppers landed at our helo pad and the casualties were trucked up to the shock and resusitation tent, I'll never forget wheeling Jimmie into the shock and resuscitation tent. He was lying on his stomach with his head raised, calling out encouragement to all his men. (Everyone of Jimmie's wounds were in his butt)!!!!!!!!!!!!! We razzed him to no end, asking "Which way were you headed when the shootin started"? Jimmie took it all in good humor. And as time progressed, we learned how he had managed the defense of that hill all night long without loosing more men than he did. His Marines told how Jimmie would order them to wait till they heared the advancing enemy getting real close, then he'd order them to throw a grenade. After it got quiet for a while the enemy would start back up the hill and Jimmie would order his men to throw a couple of rocks. This caused the VC to think more grenades was about to explode, so they retreated down the hill. This went on all night as Jimmie's men's ammo got lower and lower. When daybreak came and the guys from MAG 33 got in and extracted them, Jimmies troops were down to almost no firepower at all.
It was great having Jimmie and some of his men around our hospital for a few days. We became celeberties. General Westmorland and his entourage arrived on scene within hours after Jimmie and his troops had been delivered to us. I'll never forget seeing his imposing figure standing at the door to one of our medical support tents. He visited around a lot that day and gave encouragement to all of us. It was a real uplift after hearing night after night of Hanoi Jane's rettoric over the radio telling how she was going to eat Thanksgiving turkey on 1st Med Bn.'s MedEvac Helo Pad. She really hurt our spirts badly and I can't forgive her, as much as I try.
Two days after Jimmie's batle and arrival at our hospital, I was given the honor of accompanying one of Jimmie's men on a MedEvac flight to "Qui Noin" (?), where ther was a large, well-equipped Army hospital capable of opthalmic surgery. This marine had shrapenell in both eyes. After we got our casualty settled in, a cute little round eyed nurse took us on a tour to show off her big fancy hospital. She took us into the neurological surgery ward. As I walked passed bunk after bunk of soldiers, marines, airmen, ROK's, and other allied forces, I spotted a man sitting up in his rack. The left side of his head, including the left eye, were well covered with a bandage. For some reason, I paused. There on the name tag on the end of his bunk was the name of our missing Corpsman. I can't bvelieve that to this day I can't recall his name but I'd give anything to learn it and where he is. I heard that he had retired in Florida but know nothing more.
If you or anyone else out there who might see this can identify the Corpsman and his current status/location to me , I'd sure like to know it.
To the friends or family of Jimmie Howard who might read this I have a special message.
Jimmie Howard was a very exceptional man. He was talented beyond belief in the art of warfare. He knew how to penetrate the enemy and he lived for the opportunity to do just that, Being "Stuck" in a Medical Unit" had to be the bottom of the barrel for him as far as his hopes and expectaions for participating in the war were concerned. I was so proud for him when he got the call that he was going to Force Recon. I knew that if there was ever a man destined to become a CMH recepient, Jimmie was the Man. He was destined to never let anything come between him and winning a battle that would save the lives and freedom of those he was fighting to defend and support. I'll always carry a love and respect in my heart for Jimmie and would give anything to hear from anyone out there who could tell me more about Jimmie's later years.
Robert E. Boston
Hospitalman 3rd Class
First Medical Battallion,
First Marine Division
FPO, San Francisco
17230 E. 110th Street North
Owasso, OK 74055-6041
Friday, June 9, 2000
I am proud to inform you that AEGIS light off of combat systems on The USS HOWARD was successfully done today at 0900 hours inside of Combat System Room # 3.
This MAJOR milestone was 5 weeks ahead of schedule ! Testing and operation of the combat systems will start immediately.This marks the earliest activation of this equipment in the same schedules of previous ships. I will foreward to you the publications making this official announcement later next week.
Other news this week :
Sandblasting of the port RAST track will start tomorrow, Saturday.
Air conditioning plants are ON LINE for the very first time this week.
Electronic CONTROL AIR is ON LINE for the very first time this week.
Masking,and paint prep has started in AMR # 2 (Aux Machinery Rm # 2)
IVCS (internal voice communication system, aka: the telephone system) is partially ON-LINE this week.
As you can see, the USS HOWARD is truly coming to life.
The ship will be MOVED next weekend; the ship will be moved from pier # 3 to Pier # 1 to make room for the next ship launching,on July 2nd,2000 at 1pm of the USS McCAMPBELL, (DDG 85)
Dennis A. Youland
The following message was received on 16 May 2000
I am an employee of Bath Iron Works, Bath , Maine, and tonight I lead my crew of 23 employees aboard the USS Howard, Bath Iron Works Hull # 368, for the first time. My crew consists of paint sprayers, brush painters and cleaners. While we may seem not very important at this time, we are what will make the USS HOWARD shine in a few short months. We are quickly appraoching ALO (Aegis Light Off ; a term for the complicated electronics and weapontry of the ship) This mile-stone means the ship will be operating it's own electronics for the very first time. This is TRULY a first sign of a ship coming to life. After ALO, is GELO, Generator Light Off, and then MELO , Main Engine Light Off, and finally all of the hability items , aka, hotel services, come alive, the galley, scullery, berthings, so on. In my 32+ years at Bath Iron Works, I and my crew want you to be assured of not only the HIGHEST QUALITY of workmanship, but PRIDE will be built into the USS HOWARD. I am positive the namesake would want it no other way.
Sir, we salute the USS Howard, may we come aboard?
Dennis A. Youland
Bath Iron Works
700 Wasahington Street,
The following message was received on 22 June 1999. It was sent by LT Mike Schiller, USN.
I enjoyed your page, as I was looking for some information on GySgt Howard. You may be interested to know that the Navy will be naming their newest Aegis destroyer after (Jimmie Howard), DDG 83, USS HOWARD. I am going to be the Chief Engineer on this ship, and appreciate the information about him. The ship is currently being built in Bath, ME; will be launched and christened November (1999); and commissioned into active service sometime in the summer of 2001. DDG 82 is being named after CDR Lassen, another Vietnam CMOH recipient.
Thanks for your information on Jimmie Howard, and the great web page. These certainly are important stories that need to be told and re-told, to honor those who have served, and to inspire those who serve today and in the future.
Best of luck to you,
LT Mike Schiller, USN
CNO Strategic Studies Group
Naval War College
686 Cushing Road
Newport, RI 02841-1207
The following message was received on 4 May 1999. It was sent by Tod Thompson firstname.lastname@example.org
Although I never was in combat I had the great good fortune to serve with Jimmie E. Howard. In 1955 I was assigned to Ist Amph. Recon at Camp Pendleton Ca. Jimmy Howard was a sergeant in the company. If my memory serves me he won the Silver Star in Korea.
Sgt. Howard became a good friend and helped me along the way whenever he could. I was not used to the running we did and he kept me going with his positive and humorous attitude. He did this for a couple of weeks until I got in shape to keep up with no trouble.
When I got out of the Marines I played college football and Jimmie was a coach player for ( I believe) 29 Palms base football team. They were playing a team we were scouting and we got to have a very nice reunion.
He was, to me, the best Marine I ever knew, with compassion for all and a good friend.
Thanks for your time and your great site.
Tod Thompson, USMC June 54 to June 56
My question is, is he still alive?
The following message was received on 24 February 1999. It was sent by Ron Dabney email@example.com
I entered Marine Corps boot camp in August 1966. All our drill sergeants could talk about was how a marine should be like their friend, Jimmy Howard.
We heard of his exploits in Vietnam and that he may receive the Medal of Honor. At this time in my life, I was just trying to survive boot camp and had little time to think about Jimmy Howard.
I survived boot camp and found out that Jimmy Howard was from my hometown (Burlington, Iowa.)
Anyway, he received the Medal of Honor and on my way back to Vietnam (2nd tour) I was introduced to Jimmy Howard. We were able to talk about growing up in a small midwestern town (pop. app. 27,000) and it was an honor to meet Mr. Howard. He was humble. He did not brag. He was a nice man. Just thought you would like to know. Have a good day.
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