Freedom Fighters: Charles Howard - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Freedom Fighters: Charles Howard


Charles "Bo" Howard arrived in Vietnam on July 8, 1965 with the 101st Airborne. He found out what war was really like within the first few days in the country.

"We were trained for war, but it's not like being shot at.We had our first skirmishes out there and we lost our forward observer and our radio telephone operator," Howard recalled.

War in Vietnam was unlike any earlier war that Howard had studied. In Vietnam, helicopters were almost always the mode of transportation.

"They would come and pick us up in a helicopter, with our guns, 105 when you see that gun hanging on the back, that was it. Take us out there, drop us off, and they're gone. You're there, with the enemy there, and you're there," he said.

Howard was in a nine-man gun section, where each man had to learn every position.However, the enemy's guns could also shoot fifteen miles and big guns were prime targets.

"You're worried more about your mission than yourself," he said.

Howard completed his first tour of duty in Vietnam in June of 1966, but returned for a second tour in February 1971. Once again, the fighting began immediately. Totally surrounded by the enemy, it was 73 hours of continuous battle before the Americans could regroup. 

Charles Howard retired from the service in 1979. Among his many medals and citations are two bronze stars for meritorious service. Howard's time with the big guns has left him with impaired hearing, and exposure to agent orange has caused cancer, and yet he's proud to have served his country, and especially proud to be an American.

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