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Two centuries separate Robertson veterans

By Richard Robertson

Vietnam War Veteran Howard Lewis Robertson fought almost 200 years after his 3rd-great-Grandfather Matthew Robertson in the Revolutionary War.

Matthew's field of battle was in the per-settlement, Kentucky frontier, close to where this photo was taken, at Humble community, Russell County, Kentucky. His duty station was at Fort Kennedy, which he helped to build after his Spring of 1780 enlistment in the Continental Army.


Matthew's duty station remained Fort Kennedy until his release from service in 1783. In August of 1780, Matthew, under the command of General George Rogers Clark, participated in a retaliatory campaign into Ohio, then called the Northwest Territory. This was in response to a mixed force of British and Indians that invaded Kentucky in June of that year, laying siege to two fortified settlements, and taking hundreds of captives.

Matthew followed General Clark back to Ohio in August of 1782, for yet more retaliation. This time is was in response to the ambush of a salt seeking party of settlers, at the battle of Blue Licks. Again, it was British and Indian forces responsible. Daniel Boone and his son Israel were in this group of settlers. It was at Blue Licks were Israel met with death. Clark commanded a scorched-earth policy in this second campaign.

The Battle of Piqua culminated the campaign, the last major expedition of the Revolutionary War. Matthew was employed as an Indian Spy by General Clark. He would gather intelligence of the enemies location and activities. When possible, he was to infiltrate the enemy camps, retrieving prisoners and property. Ironically and regretfully, stealth under cover of night, the tool that Matthew used for the advantage of the Patriots, was what led to the grave consequences visited upon Howard Lewis in the early morning hours of March 10, 1970.

Howard Robertson was drafted in the Army on February 18th, 1970. He was assigned to the illustrious and well-storied 101st Airborne Division, stationed in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky.

Upon deployment to Vietnam, he was assigned to the third platoon of the first & 506 Alpha Company. Howard finds ironic humor in the fact that he was named squad leader just days before the Vietcong jungle ambush of the 3rd platoon. That is all in which he finds humor, surrounding that event.

There were 6 soldiers killed and 6 soldiers injured that morning. Howard's injuries were gruesome, profound, and very much life threatening, requiring months of hospitalization. Most deservedly, he is a purple heart recipient.

Oh happy day, February 17th 1971 was, when Howard was discharged. He was lacking one day of being in the employ of Uncle Sam two full years. That is a short time, in the course of a full lifetime. But contained in those two years were agonies endured, and atrocities witnessed, that we who have not been in combat cannot imagine.

Most of those agonies and atrocities were compressed into a few hours in the morning of March 10, 1970, in the jungles of a foreign land, a hemisphere removed from Kentucky.


This story was posted on 2018-11-13 06:36:32
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Two centuries separate Robertson veterans



2018-11-13 - Russell Springs, KY - Photo by Richard Robertson.
Pictured is Vietnam War Veteran Howard Lewis Robertson, at the grave of his 3rd great Grandfather Matthew Robertson, a Veteran of the Revolutionary War. Almost 200 years separate each of their eras and time of service. In much different war scenarios, they did fight.

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