The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients
Featuring Marine Medal of Honor Recipients From WWII-Korea-Viet Nam And Iraqi Freedom
Major Howard V. Lee
United States Marine Corps
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer, Company E, Fourth Marines, Third Marine Division near Cam Lo, Republic of Vietnam, on 8 and 9 August 1966. A platoon of Major (then Captain) Lee's company, while on an operation deep in enemy territory, was attacked and surrounded by a large Vietnamese force. Realizing that the unit had suffered numerous casualties, depriving it of effective leadership, and fully aware that the platoon was even then under heavy attack by the enemy, Major Lee took seven men and proceeded by helicopter to reinforce the beleaguered platoon. Major Lee disembarked from the helicopter with two of his men and , braving withering enemy enemy fire, led them into the perimeter, where he fearlessly moved from position to position, directing and and encouraging the overtaxed troops. The enemy then launched a massive attack with the full might of their forces. Although painfully wounded by fragments from an enemy grenade in several areas of his body, including his eye, Major Lee continued undauntedly throughout the night to direct the valiant defense, coordinate supporting fires, and apprise higher headquarters of the plight of the platoon. The next morning he collapsed from his wounds and was forced to relinquish command. However the small band of Marines had held their position and repeatedly fought off many vicious enemy attacks for a grueling six hours until their evacuation was effected the following morning. Major Lee's actions saved his men from capture, minimized the loss of lives, and dealt the enemy a severe defeat. His indomitable fighting spirit, superb leadership, and great personal valor in the face of tremendous odds, reflect great credit upon himself and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Lyndon B. Johnson
President of the United States
Lieutenant Colonel Howard V. Lee who was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during August 1966 in Vietnam, was born 1 August 1933, in New York City. He graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, New York in 1951, and from Pace College with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, on 19 June 1955. While in his senior year at college, he enlisted as a member of the Platoon Leaders Class in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
In September 1955, he entered the 14th Officers Candidates’ Course, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia, and upon completing the course the following December, was commissioned a Marine Corps Reserve second lieutenant. Lieutenant Lee completed The Basic School, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, in July 1956 and the Marine Corps Supply School, Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, that September.
Upon completion of these courses, he was transferred to the Marine Corps Supply Activity, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for duty as Field Inspection Officer, Field Inspection Section, and later, Officer in Charge, Audit Section. He was promoted to first lieutenant in June 1957, and integrated into the Regular Marine Corps in January 1958.
Detached from the Supply Activity in September 1958, he was ordered to the West Coast, and served briefly as Troop Handler, 1st Replacement Battalion, Staging Regiment, Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California, then was assigned duty as a platoon commander with Company F, 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division, serving in this capacity until June 1959.
First Lieutenant Lee next served as the Battalion S-4 Officer with H&S Company, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, 3d Marine Division, San Francisco, California. In February 1960, he was assigned duty as Guard Officer at the Marine Barracks, U.S. Naval Propellant Plant, Indian Head, Maryland.
After his promotion to captain on 1 July 1961, he was assigned duties as Platoon Commander and, later, Instructor, The Basic School, Marine Corps Schools in Quantico, where he remained until June 1964.
From July 1964 until February 1966, Capt Lee was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, serving first as Commanding Officer of Company A, 1st Battalion, then as Battalion S-3 Officer with H&S Company, 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, 2d Marine Division. During the latter period, he served aboard the USS La Salle (LPD-3), and in the Dominican Republic.
Ordered to the Republic of Vietnam in April 1966, Capt Lee served as Commanding Officer of Company E, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines, 3d Marine Division. It was on 8-9 August that he distinguished himself above and beyond the call of duty for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. He received the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” for heroic action earlier on 26-27 June 1966. Wounded in action on August 8th, and 9th in the vicinity of Quang Tri, Capt Lee was evacuated to the U.S. Naval Hospital, Bethesda, Maryland. In November 1966, he returned to duty at Headquarters Marine Corps and assigned duty as TO/MOS Coordinator and, later, Assistant FMF Readiness Officer in the Operation Section, G-4 Division. He was promoted to major in July 1966.
Following this assignment, Maj Lee completed the Command and Staff College, Quantico, Virginia, in June 1970, then returned to the Republic of Vietnam for his second tour of duty. For his service as Executive Officer, Provisional Headquarters and Service Company and with the 2d Combined Action Group, III Marine Amphibious Force, he earned a Gold Star in lieu of a second Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”.
He was promoted in July 1972 to lieutenant colonel and retired in 1975 from the Marine Corps.
A complete list of his medals and decorations include: the Medal of Honor, the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” and Gold Star in lieu of a second award, the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Presidential Unit Citation, the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze stars, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with one bronze and one silver star, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.