USS HOWARD’s namesake is Marine Corps First Sergeant Jimmie E. Howard. Born and raised in Burlington, Iowa, Jimmie Howard enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1950 at the age of 21. He proved his valor in Korea awarded the Silver Star. Among his other awards are three Purple Hearts. Sixteen years later the 37 year-old father of six returned again to war, this time in the jungles of Vietnam. Serving as platoon leader, Staff Sergeant Howard and his 18-man platoon from Company C, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division were operating as forward observers deep in enemy territory on Hill 488. Against overwhelming odds in the face of a determined and much larger force of Viet Cong. Staff Sergeant Howard and his men successfully defended their position and platoon until relieved
In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson presented our nation’s highest military honor to Howard for his efforts in Vietnam. GYSGT Jimmie E. Howard stood proudly at attention next to his wife and six children while the story of his heroic stand at Hill 488 was read. President Lyndon B. Johnson then placed the Medal of Honor around the neck of an incredible leader and true American hero. The citation is as follows:
"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."
Following retirement from the United States Marine Corps in 1972, Jimmie Howard settled in San Diego working for the local Veterans Affairs office and volunteered as a coach for community youth sports organizations to include serving as an assistant football coach at Point Loma High School.
On November 12, 1993 Jimmie Howard passed away at his home in San Diego. He is buried in Section O, Grave 3759 at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, California .
SHIELD: Per chevron Celeste and Azure, a chevron Or fimbriated Argent between in chief an oriental dragon Proper and in base five mullets of the fourth in the configuration of the Southern Cross.
CREST: From a wreath Or and Celeste, a Marine mameluke and Naval sword saltirewise points up superimposed by a Medal of Honor neckpad Proper, all within an arc of six mullets Azure.
SUPPORTERS: Two lightning flashes saltirewise Gules edged Or.
MOTTO: A scroll Argent doubled and inscribed "READY FOR VICTORY" Azure.
The coat of arms as blazoned in full color upon a white oval enclosed by a dark blue collar edged on the outside with a gold chain and bearing the inscription "USS HOWARD" at top and "DDG 83" at base, all in gold.
SHIELD: Dark blue and gold are the colors traditionally associated with the Navy and represent the sea and excellence. The oriental dragon denotes service in the Pacific and the fighting spirit demonstrated by the platoon under the leadership of Gunnery Sergeant Howard. The chevron symbolizes strength and Hill 488, the site where Gunnery Sergeant Howard earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. The stars, in the configuration of the Southern Cross, represent the First Marine Division patch worn by Gunnery Sergeant Howard.
CREST: The six battle stars allude to the war fighting legacy by the previous USS HOWARD’s World War II combat actions. The neck pad denotes the Congressional Medal of Honor, our country’s highest honor, awarded to Gunnery Sergeant Howard for gallantry and intrepidity under fire and represents an AEGIS array, highlighting the modern warfare capabilities of USS HOWARD. The crossed Naval sword and Marine mameluke denote cooperation and teamwork, as well as support to Marines ashore with USS HOWARD’s advanced combat systems.
SUPPORTERS: The lightning flashes in the United States Marine Corps colors of red and gold represent swift combat action and USS HOWARD’s modern Network Centric Warfare technology.
MOTTO: "Ready For Victory" represents the honor, courage, and commitment of USS HOWARD’s Sailors as they ensure that HOWARD is ready for all operations in peace and will always be victorious in combat.
COMMISSIONED: 20 OCT 2001
LOCATION: Galveston, TX