A Biography of Colonel Byron P. Howlett, Jr.


When I finished college in 1951, the Korean War was raging and Uncle Sam had notified me that my service was required. After receiving my commission through OCS (Officer Candidate School), I was selected to go to flight school and became a MSC medical evacuation helicopter pilot. I was assigned to a unit that was attached to a MASH Hospital in Korea. You have probably seen us in the TV series MASH flying over the mountains and landing at the MASH helipad.

The experience had such an impact on me that after graduate school and receiving an MBA that I, ultimately, decided on a military career.

Subsequently, I commanded the medical evacuation (DUSTOFF) units in the northern half of Vietnam in 1967 and 1968. DUSTOFF units evacuated over 900,000 casualties during the war which included US, allies, civilians and enemy.

I retired from the Army after a little over 31 years of active service as the Assistant Commandant of the Academy of Health Sciences at Fort Sam Houston. I spent my later years at USAA and retired from there in 1994.

Citation: The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Lieutenant Colonel Byron P. Howlett, Jr (ASN: 0-75374), United States Army, for gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force while serving with the 498th Medical Company, 55th Medical Group, 44th Medical Brigade, in the Republic of Vietnam. Lieutenant Colonel Howlett distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous action on 20 November 1967, as Aircraft Commander aboard an ambulance helicopter on a medical evacuation mission near Dak To. An airborne infantry unit was engaged in a fierce firefight with a North Vietnamese Army battalion and had suffered heavy casualties. Five helicopters had been shot down by enemy fire while attempting to extract the wounded from a small clearing at the base of Hill 875. Completely disregarding his safety, Colonel Howlett flew to the battle site and executed an approach to the exposed landing zone. Despite the intense hostile rocket, rigle grenade and automatic weapons fire placed on his helicopter, he fearlessly descended into the bullet-swept clearing and loaded five critically wounded paratroopers aboard. Although his aircraft received numerous hits by enemy fire, Colonel Howlett skillfully lifted the crippled helicopter from the landing zone and delivered the patients to medical facilities. Lieutenant Colonel Howlett’s gallantry in action was in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.





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Web Page Created:

05 January 2013


Web Page Updated:

05 January 2013