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.
Current USS Howard
USS Howard (DDG 83) is the thirty-third Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the United States Navy. Her keel was laid down at Bath Iron Works 9 December 1998, launched and christened 20 November 1999 and commissioned 20 October 2001.
In November 2001 USS Howard arrived in its homeport of Naval Station San Diego, Calif., after an eight-week transit from Bath, Maine. December 10, The Howard departed homeport for a Family Day Cruise en route to Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Calif with Commander Joseph F. Nolan as the commanding officer.
February 4, 2002 USS Howard departed San Diego for Combat Systems Ship's Qualifications Trials (CSSQT) and EWSQT/ASWSQT in the SOCAL and Hawaiian Op. Areas. April 1, DDG 83 departed Naval Station San Diego for a four-day Final Contract Trials (FCT) with the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV). April 20, USS Howard entered the Southwest Marine shipyard for a four-month Post Shakedown Availability (PSA). Howard was underway for Group Sail with the Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 9 from Oct. 28- Nov. 1December 13, Cmdr. Patrick A. Piercey relieved Cmdr. Joseph F. Nolan as CO of USS Howard during a change-of-command ceremony on board the ship.
June 10, 2003 The Howard pulled into Portland, Oregon, to participate in the annual Rose Festival. In November the guided-missile destroyer was off the coast of southern California participating in a Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), as part of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Carrier Strike Group.
In March 2004 Howard was underway for Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) from March through April. In May USS Howard departed Naval Base San Diego for its maiden deployment, with the Stennis CSG, in support of the Global War on Terrorism. The Strike Group also participated in exercise Northern Edge 2004, a joint exercise with the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps. In July the Howard participated in exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) '04. She participated in Joint Air and Sea Exercises (JASEX) from Aug. 8-14. November 1, USS Howard returned to homeport after more than a five-month deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AoR). November 12, Cmdr. Carol A. Hottenrott relieved Cmdr. Patrick A. Pierscey as the 3rd CO of DDG 83.
In September 2005 The Howard conducted routine training off the coast of southern California.
July 28, 2006 Cmdr. James M. Lee Morgan relieved Cmdr. Carol A. Hottenrott as commanding officer of the Howard. August 2, USS Howard departed San Diego for a Friends and Family Day Cruise. On September 13, USS Howard departed Naval Station San Diego for a six-month deployment, as part of the USS Boxer (LHD 4) Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 5, in support of the Global War on Terrorism. In November USS Howard departed Mumbai, India, after a three-day in-port phase of exercise Malabar 2006.
On 16 February 2007, the USS Howard was awarded the 2006 Battle "E" award. In March USS Howard returned to San Diego after a six-month underway period in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet AoR. In June DDG 83 arrived in Portland, Ore., for a three-day port visit to participate in the Fleet Week festivities during the 100th annual Portland Rose Festival. In December USS Howard conducted routine training as part of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) CSG.
In April 2008 The guided-missile destroyer participated in a Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) with the Reagan Carrier Strike Group, in the SOCAL Op. Area, in preparation for the upcoming deployment which began on May 19. In August USS Howard trained with the navies of Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the Republic of the Philippines during the Southeast Asia Cooperation Against Terrorism (SEACAT) exercise. In September the Howard was in the Indian Ocean monitoring the situation with the Belize-flagged Ukrainian cargo ship MV Faina, which on 25 September 2008 was captured by Somali pirates en route to Kenya. The Faina was reported to be carrying 33 Russian-built T-72 tanks along with ammunition and spare parts. (The Faina was eventually released by the pirates 5 February 2009). November 25, USS Howard returned to homeport after a six-month deployment. Howard received the 2008 Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy Award and provided humanitarian assistance to the Philippines.
May 5, 2009 Cmdr. William S. Switzer relieved Cmdr. Curtis J. Goodnight as CO of DDG 83 during a change-of-command ceremony at Naval Base San Diego. In May the Howard departed San Diego for a western Pacific deployment, as part of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) CSG. In October USS Howard returned home after a five-month deployment.
March 17, 2011 Cmdr. Andree E. Bergmann relieved Cmdr. William S. Switzer as CO of the Howard during a change-of-command ceremony on board the ship at San Diego. In May the guided-missile destroyer arrived in Thailand to participate in the first phase of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise. In May the Howard pulled into Tanjung Perak port in Jakarta, Indonesia, for the second phase of CARAT. In June USS Howard arrived in Kuantan, Malaysia, for the third phase of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training. Later in June DDG 83 arrived in Puerto Princesa, Republic of the Philippines, for the fourth phase of CARAT exercise. In October USS Howard returned to Naval Base San Diego after a seven-month deployment in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet Areas of Responsibility.
June 17, 2012 BAE Systems San Diego Ship Repair has been recently awarded $17 million for repairs and modernization of the Howard, as part of the DDG Modernization (DDG MOD) upgrade. The four-month Drydocking Selected Restricted Availability (DSRA) commenced on July 13.
1st USS Howard
The first USS Howard (DD-179) was launched by Union Iron Works, San Francisco, Calif., 26 April 1919 and commissioned 29 January 1920 at Mare Island, Calif. with Comdr. L. M. Stewart as the commanding officer. The ship was named after Charles W. Howard who volunteered for service in the Navy during the Civil War, being appointed mate in October 1862. As acting ensign he served on board the New Ironsides and was in charge of the deck when that ship was attacked by the Confederate torpedo boat David in Charleston Harbor, on the night of 5 October 1863. Mounting the rail, he ordered the sentries to fire on the approaching enemy, and while exposed he received a mortal wound. He died 5 days later and was honored by being appointed acting master after his death "for gallant conduct in face of the enemy."
The USS Howard departed San Francisco 1 March 1920 to join the Pacific Destroyer Force at San Diego. After initial tactical maneuvers and gunnery training, she departed San Diego 3 May for Topolobampo, Mexico, where she was vitally needed to protect American interests. She rejoined her destroyer flotilla 17 May to participate in intensive and prolonged operations in the San Diego area, including torpedo practice, patrol, battle practices and exercises with submarines. Howard decommissioned 27 May 1922.
Recommissioned 29 August 1940, Howard was converted to a minesweeper and reclassified DMS-7. She sailed from San Diego in mid October, arrived at Norfolk on the 29th and proceeded 19 November for duty in the Caribbean. She remained there until 17 May 1941 conducting mine-sweeping assignments and patrol duty enforcing the Neutrality Act. Howard returned to Norfolk 19 May and participated in exercises along the Chesapeake Bay until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941 plunged the United States into the war.
Howard was underway 8 December on escort duty, and in the months that followed, convoyed transports and tankers in the Caribbean and western Atlantic, keeping supply lanes open in spite of the treat by German U-boats. Plans called for an invasion of North Africa in 1942. In October, Howard joined Admiral Hewitt's Western Naval Task Force at Norfolk. She sailed 24 October and screened flagship Augusta during the Atlantic crossing. As troops landed 8 November she performed both minesweeping and screening duties. During the first phase of the Naval Battle of Casablanca that day Howard screened Augusta as the cruiser engaged shore batteries and dueled French battleship Jean Bart.
During most of 1943, Howard steamed the convoy lanes of the Atlantic and Caribbean protecting Allied ships from submarine and air attack. As the tempo of operations against Japan increased, Howard was transferred to the western Pacific theater, sailing from Norfolk 21 November 1943, and arriving San Diego 7 December. The ship deployed 25 March 1944, escorting ships to Pearl Harbor and Majuro. She screened a returning convoy to Pearl Harbor, arriving 24 April, and there began preparations for the invasion of the Marianas. Joining Adm. "Kelly" Turner's hard-fighting amphibious task force, Howard sortied 29 May and arrived off Saipan via Eni-wetok 13 June. The ship swept minefields during the day and conducted patrol and harassing fire by night until the landings 15 June.
Howard was assigned to screen transports before her next operation, the invasion of the Philippines, slated for October 1944 on the island of Leyte. Once more she carried out dangerous minesweeping duties, clearing paths in Surigao Strait and Leyte Gulf. She departed 24 October for Manus with the invasion force and was there during the first phase of the fleet battle for Leyte Gulf, which ended in a decisive victory for the U.S. Navy. She sailed from Manus 23 December to take part in the next phase of the Philippines operation, the invasion of Luzon. She rendezvoused at Leyte Gulf 30 December and did convoy patrols for Lingayen Gulf, 2 January 1945. During this point in the war, the Japanese made desperate suicide attacks, with Howard splashing one attacker and assisting in destroying many others. The minesweepers began their work under almost constant air attack; and, by the time troops landed 9 January, three of Howard's sister ships had been lost.
USS Howard sailed 13 February with the invasion force for Iwo Jima. She preformed exploratory sweeps off the island 16 February, fighting off numerous air attacks. After the assault 19 February the ship acted as a screening ship, arriving in Saipan 2 March. Following another period of screening duty off Iwo Jima later in March, Howard arrived at Pearl Harbor via Guam 4 April 1945.
Reclassified AG-106, 5 June 1945, she escorted submarines in Hawaiian waters and acted as plane guard for carrier operations before sailing Philadelphia and being decommissioned 30 November 1945. In 1946 Howard was sold to Northern Metals Co., Philadelphia, Pa., and scrapped.
Howard received six battle stars for World War II service.