Jimmie Earl Howard MOH

b. 27/07/1929 Burlington, Iowa. d. 12/11/1993 San Diego, California.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 16/06/1966 near Chu Lai, Vietnam.

Jimmie E Howard MOH

Jimmie Earl Howard was born July 27, 1929, in Burlington, Iowa, and graduated from high school there in 1949. He attended the University of Iowa for one year prior to enlisting in the United States Marine Corps on July 12, 1950.

He went through recruit training with the 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California, and was promoted to Private First Class upon graduation from recruit training in January 1951, remaining at the Recruit Depot as a drill instructor until December 1951. After completing advanced infantry training in February 1952, he was ordered to Korea, where he was assigned duty as a forward observer with the 4.2″ Mortar Company, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. For his service in Korea, he was awarded the Silver Star, the Purple Heart with Gold Star in lieu of a second Purple Heart, and the Navy Unit Commendation. He was a promoted to corporal in March 1952.

Upon his return to the United States in April 1953, Corporal Howard served as Tactics Instructor, Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. While stationed at Camp Pendleton, he was promoted to sergeant in June 1953.

In March 1954, Sergeant Howard joined the Marine Detachment on board the USS Oriskany (CVA-34), as a squad leader. The following January, he returned to Camp Pendleton and served as a squad leader, 1st Amphibious Reconnaissance Company. The 1st Amphibious Reconnaissance Company was redesignated as the 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, and Sgt Howard remained with this unit until September 1957. He was promoted to staff sergeant in May 1956.

From September 1957 until April 1960, he served as Special Services Chief and a military policeman with Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton.

Transferred to San Francisco, California, Staff Sergeant Howard was assigned to the 3rd Marine Division. He served as Special Services Noncommissioned Officer, Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines and later, as a platoon guide and platoon sergeant with Company H, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines.

Reassigned to the Recruit Depot, San Diego, in August 1961, he joined Guard Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion and served as Guard Noncommissioned Officer, Company First Sergeant and administrative man, respectively. He later became Depot Special Service Assistant, Headquarters Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion there, and served in the latter capacity until October 1964.

The following month, he returned to Camp Pendleton, and was assigned to the 1st Marine Division. He saw duty as Regimental Special Services Noncommissioned Officer with Headquarters Battery, 11th Marine Regiment and in January 1965, became an instructor, Counterguerrilla Warfare Course, Division Schools Center, Subunit #1, with Headquarters Battalion until March 1966.

From April until June 1966, Howard served as a platoon leader, with Company C, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division.

On the evening of June 13, 1966, Howard and his platoon of 15 Marines along with two Navy corpsmen were dropped behind enemy lines atop Hill 488. The mission of this reconnaissance unit was to observe enemy troop movements in the valley and call in air and artillery strikes. Within days, the enemy descended on them in force; on the night of June 15, 1966, a full battalion of Viet Cong (over 300 men) engaged the squad of 18. After receiving severe wounds from an enemy grenade, Howard distributed ammunition to his men and directed air strikes on the enemy. By dawn, his beleaguered platoon still held their position. During the 12 hours of combat, 200 enemy troops were killed as against the loss of six American lives.

In addition to receiving the Medal of Honor (presented on August 21, 1967 by President Lyndon B. Johnson) for his actions on Hill 488, Howard received a gold star in lieu of a third Purple Heart for wounds received on June 16, 1966. Members of Howard’s platoon were decorated for their actions in this fight with four Navy Crosses and thirteen Silver Stars.

Upon his return to the United States, he was assigned duty as Battalion Training Non-commissioned Officer, Service Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California. Howard retired from the Marine Corps on March 31, 1977, with the rank of first sergeant.

Following his retirement, Howard lived in San Diego, California and worked for the local Veterans Affairs office. Howard became involved in coaching/volunteering for Point Loma High School. He was a coach for the Point Loma High School football team which went undefeated in 1987 and won the San Diego Section CIF championship. He was also a coach for the Point Loma High School football team which won the CIF championship again in 1991. When asked why he liked coaching, Coach Howard stated the men he lost in combat were relatively the same age as the high school football players and it reminded him of them.

Jimmie E. Howard died on November 12, 1993, at his home in San Diego, California. He was buried in the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.



For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his 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 five men were killed and all but one 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.