You got your average everyday sports heroes, but every now and then, life throws you a curve ball.
Through happenstance, twist of fate, or whatever you want to call it. My life and family have led me to this point in time.
A few years back, a dear family friend passed (my sister's best friend), but prior to her death, I had the good fortune to meet her mother-in-law. This dear, sweet lady is also a widower, which brings us to her current beau, Howard. I met him at my sister's house during one of our family gatherings for one occasion or another and we struck up a conversation.
Learning that Mr. Lee was a retired Marine, there are no such things as "former" Marines, I thanked him for his service as I do with every service member I meet. But, I also knew another interesting little tidbit of information that really made me want to meet this man and offer my sincerest thanks.
You see, my wife's uncle, an Army veteran himself, had previously met this lady and Howard through their social circles. He informed me of Howard's service to his country. You see, my dear readers, Mr. Howard V. Lee, or more properly, Major Howard V. Lee, is one of history's few living Medal of Honor recipients.
There are currently 79 living recipients. (Since 1941, more than half of the Medals of Honor have been awarded posthumously as the actions that garner this award normally prove fatal.)
For the record, and one of my biggest pet peeves, this medal has NEVER been won!! This medal is awarded for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. I am only too sure that each recipient has felt his or her actions did not merit this distinction, and they would most definitely have chosen NOT to have been placed in the precarious position that prompted their actions.
I managed to find a very good looking picture of my friend on this MOH page and printed it out, asking him last night if he would be kind enough to sign it for me. He told me that he'd be honored and that he gets requests through the mail all the time. (he also told me that he'll sign every one that he gets as long as the return envelope/postage is included)
without further adieu, I present my latest (and favorite) in-person autograph of a tried and true Hero:
The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
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 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 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
Kinda makes dealing with rush-hour traffic or any of my worst daily offenses seem super-insignificant, doesn't it??
I can hardly wait to find a nice frame so I can hang this on my desk at work. It will be a constant reminder of all that I have and hold dear, the freedoms I enjoy each and every day, and the men and women that face and have faced tremendous odds defending those freedoms.
Thank you for your service and sacrifice Howie, I'm proud to know you and call you my friend. And to all my service connected readers, thank you for your service as well.
thanks for reading,
Have a GReat day!!
Richard H. Nebe Jr.
proud son of a 30 year U.S. Navy Veteran!!
P.S. since you've hung in there this long, I do have a second signed picture if anyone is interested...