Californians and the Military
First Sergeant Jimmie Earl Howard
Medal Of Honor Recipient
by Paul Nitchman
President Johnson presenting then Gunnery Sergeant Howard the Medal of Honor

Jimmie Earl Howard was born on 27 July 1929 in Burlington, Iowa and enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1950.

He served in Korea where he was awarded the Silver Star and 2 Purple Hearts for valor. He and his wife Teresa were married in 1951 in San Diego and had seven children. In 1967 Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt) Howard returned to war in the jungles of Vietnam. On 16 June 1967, serving as a platoon leader from Company C, 1st Reconnasance Battalion, 1st Marine Division., GySgt Howard and his 18 man platoon occupied an observation post on Hill 488 near Loc San, Republic of Viet Nam. After midnight an estimated battalion sized force of Viet Cong attacked his position. Howard organized his small but determined force and was able to repel repeated assaults until relief arrived the next morning. His platoon suffered 5 killed and all but 1 wounded. GySgt Howard was awarded the Medal of Honor and a third Purple Heart for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Retiring as First Sergeant. in 1972, Jimmie Howard settled in San Diego where he was involved in Veterans Affairs and community youth sports. Jimmie Howard passed away at his home in San Diego on 12 Nov. 1993 and is buried in the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, CA


The Medal of Honor
Rank at time of receipt: Gunnery Sergeant U.S. Marine Corps,
Unit: Company C, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division
Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 16 June 1966
Entered service at: Burlington, Iowa
Born: Trumbell, 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.
USS Howard

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Updated 8 February 2016