Valor Friday

| June 28, 2019

navy moh

Today’s Valor Friday is dedicated to Lieutenant Colonel Howard V Lee, USMC, and his actions in Quang Tri Provence, Viet Nam, during Operation Prairie. Mason has done his usual outstanding research on Lieutenant Colonel Lee’s valor during the dark days of the Viet Nam war. Here’s Mason:

On March 23, 2019, another hero of the Vietnam War received his eternal reward when Lieutenant Colonel Howard V Lee, USMC (ret) passed at the age of 85. He leaves behind four children, a sister, numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and a grateful nation.

While a senior at Pace College, Lee enlisted with the Marine Corps’ Platoon Leaders Class. Attending OCS in 1955, he was commissioned as a supply officer. He later transitioned to platoon commander and was in charge of a company of Marines in 1964 that was sent to the Dominican Republic and present for their civil war in 1965.

Lee served his first tour of duty in Vietnam the following year. In command of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines “The Magnificent Bastards”, Lee’s unit participated in Operations Double Eagle and Hastings. During the subsequent Operation Prairie, which sought to eliminate North Vietnamese Army forces from south of the demilitarized zone.

quang tri

Already cited for gallantry in action with a Bronze Star with “V” for bravery June 26-27, 1966, Lee had a platoon of his men engaged by enemy forces on August 8th. With his men surrounded and under heavy fire, Lee volunteered to lead a small group of reinforcements, brought in by helicopter.

Taking command once on the ground there, he moved with two men to the perimeter under heavy fire. Without regard for his own safety, he moved from position to position directing his men and encouraging the beleaguered Marines.

The enemy launched a full assault with all their forces. Early in the assault Lee was injured by a grenade blast. Hit with shrapnel all over his body, including in his eye, he continued to lead his men through the night in their defense despite his painful wounds. He continued to call in supporting fire and appraised higher command of the status of his platoon.

After fighting off repeated enemy attacks for six grueling hours, Lee finally collapsed from his wounds on the morning of the 9th. His leadership through the assaults ensured that his men were not captured and kept casualties to a minimum and denied the enemy a victory.

Lee was presented the Medal of Honor for these acts from President Johnson in October 1967 at the White House, with his three year old son charming the audience.

After serving some staff and school assignments, Lee returned to Vietnam for another tour of duty in 1970. He earned a gold star for his Bronze Star Medal while there. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1972 and retired in 1975 after 20 years of service.

Medal of Honor
DURING Vietnam War
Service: Marine Corps
Battalion: 2d Battalion
Division: 3d Marine Division (Rein.) FMF
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Major [then Captain] Howard Vincent Lee (MCSN: 0-69961), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 8 and 9 August 1966, while serving with Company E, Second Battalion, Fourth Marines, THIRD Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, in action against enemy forces near Cam Lo, Republic of Vietnam. A platoon of Major 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 fire, led them into the perimeter, where he fearlessly moved from position to position, directing 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 fire, 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.

Thanks again Mason.

Hand Salute. Ready, Two!

Category: Guest Post, Marines, Valor, We Remember

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

this guy was the real deal…

5th/77th FA

A Marine’s Marine…”that such men lived.”

Bet his bar tab is taken care of in Valhalla.

Thanks Mason.

Retired Grunt

You dont get free beer in heaven? Looks like I’m going to hell….