Howard Lee Early

Sergeant First Class
Army of the United States
11 August 1932 - 19 February 1969
Jonesville, Louisiana
Panel 32W Line 058

United States Army

CIB, 2nd Award

Master Parachutist

The database page for Howard Lee Early

09 Jul 2002

He was a great hero.

Our group of 6 Infantrymen who were Drill Sergeants in 1968 at Fort Sam Houston (San Antonio, TX) came up on orders for our 2nd tour to a combat zone at about the same time, and all vowed to stay in touch while in 'Nam. Out of the 6 who left, only 2 (myself and a NCO) came back alive.

I was assigned as an Infantry Advisor to an ARVN Infantry Battalion. Early spent his first 6 months with the 82nd Airborne Division but was allowed to transfer afterwards to Advisory Duty in the south where he was assigned to Mobile Advisory Team 68 not far from my location. I had a chance encounter with Early just prior to Tet in '69 while on a re-supply chopper flight which landed at Early's base camp. We made plans to get together after Tet, as we were only 10-20 miles apart and monitored the same Advisory Team radio frequency.

On Sunday afternoon, 19 Feb 1969, I had the misfortune of hearing Early, SFC Robert Wimp, and Captain Edwin Ackerman voluntarily charge into the rice paddies with a small SVN popular force team to repel a VC patrol. I listened to them courageously engage in a fierce fire fight, and request helicopter gun ship support. Then all at once I heard them caught up in an ambush with no way to escape. The only way in or out was by canal or helicopter. Darkness arrived before the helicopters, and there was no response to further radio calls. I continued to monitor the radio while the helicopter crews braved the heavy ground fire and searched for survivors or KIA. It was a long time before they found Early's body, the last one recovered. I figure he put up one heck of a fight.

Howard served his country as a Combat Infantryman, Airborne (Master Parachutist), Drill Sergeant Qualified. His awards included the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Drill Sergeant's Badge, Expert Rifle Marksman Badge, and numerous other awards and service medals. He was one of the most outstanding soldiers to have ever served our country in combat.

Howard also was unique in that he walked to Alexandria, Lousiana, from his home town Jonesville, LA, in 1949 to join the Army. His birthdate is shown as 8/11/32, but was actually 8/11/35, which means he was a very brave, courageous, and a very young soldier.

20 Jun 2003

Since talking with the family,I have found that Howard was born on 8/11/35, not '32 as listed on records. He walked to Alexandria, La, from Jonesville with his cousin, SFC Alvin Fagan, and enlisted at about 14 or 15 years of age. He was sent to Korea and was a POW for a while according to Alvin. A new memorial is being built and dedicated to SFC Early on 7/4/03 at St. Mary's Cemetery in Jonesville to honor this most worthy soldier. We have found his 3 sons, Fabian, Alonzo, and Alphonso Early, who were very small when he was killed in action and don't remember too much. They are all very excited to be able to know more about and honor their father.

From a friend and comrade in arms,
Murph "Tex" Marrow, MSG, US Army (Ret)
21 July 2002

Howard Lee Early was my cousin, and we both served at Fort Sam Houston. We were also at Fort Campbell, Ky, together. Howard was sent to Korea before Viet Nam, and had been a POW there.

Alvin C. Fagan
Sergeant First Class, U S Army (Ret)

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a friend and comrade in arms,
Murph "Tex" Marrow, MSG, US Army (Ret)

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 09 Jul 2002
Last updated 05/21/2007