Jimmie E Howard
Jimmie was born on the 27th of July, 1929 in Burlington, Iowa, and after graduating high school, he attended University of Iowa for a year before enlisting in the US Marine Corps on the 12th of July, 1950. He went to recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California and was promoted to Private First Class after graduation. Jimmie remained at the Recruit Depot until December of 1951 as a drill instructor.
Jimmie completed his advanced infantry training and was then ordered to Korea where he served as a forward observer with the 4.2” Mortar Company, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. For his actions during the Korean War, he earned a Silver Star for his actions, as well as two Purple Hearts for his wounds. He was also promoted to Corporal. He returned to the States in April of 1953 and Jimmie served as a Tactics Instructor at Camp Pendleton in California and was promoted to sergeant in June. He jumped around to different assignments until 1965 when he was an instructor for the Counter Guerrilla Warfare Course at Camp Pendleton until 1966 when he was deployed to the Republic of Vietnam. It was his actions on Hill 488 that would earn him the Medal of Honor. The citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a Platoon Leader, Company "C", First Reconnaissance Battalion, First Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, in action against communist insurgent forces in Quang Tin Province, Republic of Vietnam, on 16 June 1966. During the night Gunnery Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) Howard's platoon of eighteen men was assaulted by a numerically superior force consisting of a well-trained North Vietnamese Battalion employing heavy small arms fire, automatic weapons and accurate weapon fire. Without hesitation he immediately organized his platoon to personally supervise the precarious defense of Hill 488. Utterly oblivious to the unrelenting fury of hostile enemy weapons fire and hand grenades he repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire while directing the operation of his small force. As the enemy attack progressed and the enemy fire increased in volume and accuracy and despite his mounting casualties, Gunnery Sergeant Howard continued to set an example of calmness and courage. Moving from position to position, he inspired his men with dynamic leadership and courageous fighting spirit until he was struck and painfully wounded by fragments from an enemy hand grenade. Unable to move his legs and realizing that the position was becoming untenable, he distributed his ammunition to the remaining members of his platoon and skillfully directed friendly aircraft and artillery strikes with uncanny accuracy upon the enemy. Dawn found the beleaguered force diminished by five killed and all but one wounded. When rescue helicopters proceeded to Gunnery Sergeant Howard's position, he directed them away from his badly mauled force and called additional air strikes and directed devastating small arms fire on the enemy thus making the landing zone secure as possible. 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 reflected the highest credit upon Gunnery Sergeant Howard, the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
The Battle of Hill 488 lasted about twelve hours and resulted in the loss of two hundred enemy troops and six Americans. Jimmie also received another Purple Heart for his wounds and of his platoon, four Navy Crosses and thirteen Silver Stars were issued. He received his Medal of Honor from President Johnson on the 21st of August, 1967 in a ceremony at the White House and was the sixth Marine to receive the Medal during the Vietnam War.
Jimmie returned to Marine Corps Recruit Depot where he stayed until his retirement on the 31st of March, 1977 as a First Sergeant. He stayed in San Diego and worked at a local Veterans Affairs office and did some coaching and volunteering for Point Loma High School. In 1987, the Point Loma High School football team went undefeated for the year under his leadership and went on to win the San Diego Section CIF championship. This happened again in 1991 and Jimmie stated that he loved coaching because it reminded him of the men that were lost in Vietnam because they were close in age.
Jimmie Earl Howard died on the 12th of November 1993 at the age of 64 and is buried in the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, California; section O, grave 3759.