By T. Rees Shapiro Washington Post
Robert L. Howard, 70, one of the Vietnam War’s most highly decorated servicemen who received the Medal of Honor for leading fellow soldiers out of an ambush and fending off more than 250 troops during a two-day siege deep in enemy territory, died Dec. 23 of pancreatic cancer at a hospice in Waco, Tex. He had been living in the San Antonio area since retiring from the Army in 1992 at the rank of colonel.
In addition to the Medal of Honor — the military’s highest award for valor — Col. Howard received two awards of the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Defense Superior Service Medal, four awards of the Legion of Merit, four Bronze Star Medals and eight Purple Hearts.
Col. Howard, an Army Green Beret, served five tours in Vietnam. During one 13-month period, he was nominated for the Medal of Honor for three separate acts of heroism.
In December 1968, then-Sgt. 1st Class Howard was part of a platoon tasked with going into North Vietnam in search of a fellow Green Beret whose rescue beacon reported him missing in action. While leading the patrol, Sgt. Howard and his lieutenant were blown back by an anti-personnel mine that signaled a 250-man ambush on their platoon. The blast knocked Sgt. Howard unconscious, and the shrapnel wounded his hands and destroyed his rifle.
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