August 24, 2009
Vietnam Veterans....Honor, Valor, Courage
Retired Army Col. Robert L. Howard, a Medal of Honor recipient, talks to Soldiers at Joint Task Force Guantanamo, July 29. Howard travels the country telling his stories and the importance of patriotism, leadership, democracy and the history of the Medal of Honor. JTF Guantanamo conducts safe, humane, legal and transparent care and custody of detainees, including those convicted by military commission and those ordered released by a court. The JTF conducts intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination for the protection of detainees and personnel working in JTF Guantanamo facilities and in support of the War on Terror. JTF Guantanamo provides support to the Office of Military Commissions, to law enforcement and to war crimes investigations. The JTF conducts planning for and, on order, responds to Caribbean mass migration operations.
Retired Army Sgt. Maj. Gary Littrell, a Medal of Honor recipient, removes his medal from his neck to pass around to service members at Joint Task Force Guantanamo, July 29. Littrell travels the country telling his stories and the importance of patriotism, leadership, democracy and the history of the Medal of Honor. JTF Guantanamo conducts safe, humane, legal and transparent care and custody of detainees, including those convicted by military commission and those ordered released by a court. The JTF conducts intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination for the protection of detainees and personnel working in JTF Guantanamo facilities and in support of the War on Terror. JTF Guantanamo provides support to the Office of Military Commissions, to law enforcement and to war crimes investigations. The JTF conducts planning for and, on order, responds to Caribbean mass migration operations.
Honor, Valor, Courage
by Sgt. 1st Class Steven Rougeau
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government to service members who distinguish themselves through gallantry and intrepidity, risking his or her life above and beyond the call of duty against enemies of the United States of America.
Two such heroes, Medal of Honor recipients retired Army Col. Robert L. Howard and retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Gary L. Littrell visited U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay to share their experiences of valor with Joint Task Force Guantanamo service members at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Liberty Center in Camp America, and throughout the naval station.
Both retired Soldiers travel around the country and overseas visiting service members, telling their stories and talking about the importance of patriotism, leadership, democracy and the history of the Medal of Honor.
"We just go around the country to extend our appreciation for your service," Howard said. "We are privileged; this medal that I wear around my neck is for all service members."
Howard is arguably one of the most highly-decorated service members in American history, with a list of awards and decorations that would impress any experienced service member. He served five tours in Vietnam and has been nominated three times for the Medal of Honor for three different heroic actions during a 13-month period. By today's law, only one Medal can be issued to any one person in their lifetime, regardless of how many heroic acts they have performed.
Littrell's list of heroics, awards and decorations are equally impressive from his tour in Vietnam. Both Howard and Littrell risked their own lives to save the lives of others by taking charge of their unit, engaging with the enemy during a fierce battle, caring for the wounded and evacuating their Soldiers to safety.
"The best advice I can give to young men and women in the military today, and especially our young leaders, is to make sure before you deploy into a combat zone that your service members are properly trained," Littrell said. "Training is everything and everything is training."
These stories left the audience speechless and astounded at the heroic acts that saved the lives of the men's comrades during the battles in which they both served.
"One of the biggest things they mentioned was about taking care of your service members, not yourself, and that's one of the things people needed to learn if you're here for them and not for yourself," said Army Master Sgt. Jose Alicea.
Some of the service members in the audience could relate to their stories through their own experiences while deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.
"I am just in awe being in their presence and [the fact] that some of them are still alive to receive this honor," said Army Capt. Kathy Babin. "Just listening to Col. Howard, it brought me back to that moment when I was deployed and my first thought was about taking care of my Soldiers."
The Medal of Honor was established in December 1861, and since then has been awarded to 3,447 recipients, of which 95 recipients are still alive today. There have been 19 double recipients of the Medal of Honor.
Howard told his audience that commitment to your service members and doing the right thing is important. The message they brought to the service members of Guantanamo was the importance of patriotism and leadership, which they both spoke about repeatedly.
When each of the Medal of Honor recipients was asked about his own heroism and what inspired them to do what they did, both modestly replied "This was something that had to be done at the time."
Both Howard and Littrell travel extensively every year visiting service members worldwide to boost morale and share their experiences, talk about patriotism and the love they have for this country.
Wild Thing's comment.........
WOW what amazing American's!! Thank God for our Veterans and our troops today.
Posted by Wild Thing at August 24, 2009 06:55 AM
We've been fighting this war on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan for over 8 years now and not one Medal of Honor has been presented to a living recipient. I'm wondering how many packages have been submitted and shot down?
Posted by: BobF at August 24, 2009 09:28 AM
Howard is probably the most decorated man from Vietnam. He is lucky(and capable) to be alive.
It is good that these MOH awardees visit the troops and promote the basics of soldiering and personal character.
Posted by: TomR at August 24, 2009 12:55 PM
In 2007, I got to attend Colin Powell's Patriot Award dinner in Dallas hosted by the Medal of Honor Foundation. Col. Howard was there. That man has medals EVERYWHERE! I bet he was the most decorated MOH recipient on board.
He, like the others; however, was very approachable, cordial and humble. Great, great Americans!
Posted by: Billy Ray at August 24, 2009 01:57 PM
The reason that is BobF, they are all enlisted. Reading the citations of an MOH is incredible and an Act of God if they survive.
These two Heroes, are a study in courage and dedication and deserve all the credit. The troops would do well to pay very strict attention to do and heed what these men say.
Posted by: Mark at August 24, 2009 02:10 PM
The only medals this administration will be handing out will be Medals of Freedom to Code Pink, Saul Alinsky, Yasser Arafat, Hugo Chavez and Jimmy Carter.
This whole outfit needs to be in maximum security confinement and surviving on C-Rations.
Posted by: Eddie (Obama Hater) at August 24, 2009 03:42 PM
Many packages have been trashed Bob F! Gunny Dad Crusader said in WW II and Korea, his Marines literally survived HELL... "Greater no love than this, than a man who lays down his life for a friend." - John 15:13
Posted by: darthcrUSAderworldtour07 at August 24, 2009 05:47 PM
Thanks Wild Thing!:
Thank you so much for this MOH post, and for all the credit you give us veterans. Readers, please support our troops as you support the veterans. These kids are every bit the soldier that we gray hairs were, and twice as armed; fighting an enemy that has no moral code. Here at home, thank them if you are blessed to live in a military area, like I am.
Posted by: Frankly Opinionated at August 24, 2009 11:49 PM