June 20, 1996
down: December 10, 1998
Launched: November 20, 1999
Commissioned: October 20, 2001
UNIT/ in commission (Pacific Fleet)
First Sergeant Jimmie Earl Howard, USMC (July
27, 1929 – November 12, 1993):
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.
Interestingly, every time USS Howard sets to sea from its homeport of San
Diego, it passes within view of Gunnery Sgt. Howard's grave at Fort Rosecrans
National Cemetery and salutes its namesake.
Howard (DDG 83):
February 2007, the USS Howard was awarded the 2006 Battle "E"
On September 28, 2008, USS Howard was reported to be in pursuit of the
Ukrainian ship 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. 'Faina was
eventually released by the pirates February 5, 2009.
In 2008, Howard received the 2008 Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy Award and
provided humanitarian assistance to the Philippines.
Cmdr. Scott Switzer became the sixth commanding officer of Howard, replacing
Cmdr. Curtis Goodnight on May 8, 2009 during a ceremony at San Diego.