Howard R. Catley Jr. was born in 1947 in Providence, Rhode Island where he attended Classical High School graduating in 1965. He was class president for both his junior and senior years. He played baseball, basketball, and football his senior year for the undefeated 1964 championship football team. Howard then continued his academic career at the University of Rhode Island from 1965-1969 where he participated in the ROTC program. He played for the URI Rugby Club and is a member of Phi Mu Delta fraternity.
After graduation and commissioning, he attended the Infantry School at Ft Benning. LT Catley received orders for Company C, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) in Vietnam. LT Catley conducted combat operations out of Camp Evans, northwest of Hue in Thua Thien Province as the 3rd Platoon Leader. During one combat patrol, LT Catley established a base camp in thick triple canopy jungle in a mountainous area in the vicinity of the A Shau Valley. That night his platoon was awakened by hostile fire from within his perimeter, sappers were headed for the command post but LT Catley’s platoon returned fire and routed the attackers, killing seven. A few days later, LT Catley was leading his platoon to their front, clearing foxholes when fire opened up from the brush. “All of a sudden I felt a sharp pain in my head, I dove into one of the foxholes, headfirst. I was immobile in the foxhole. My platoon quickly moved to my position returning fire. My platoon sergeant pulled me up and found an unexploded enemy grenade in the foxhole. Later inspection found a bullet hole in my helmet. The bullet entered on the side of my head, tumbled between the steel outer helmet and the inner helmet liner, and then became lodged in the front, leaving a head wound requiring medical attention. I found the bullet later in the helmet back in the States. I was medevaced out via helicopter and en-route to a treatment center where we picked up another wounded soldier who lost his legs. Twenty years later, I saw this same soldier, Bill Demby on TV. He had become an inspirational public speaker telling his story about prosthetic legs. We became friends and he spoke at my high school.” LT Catley was promoted to Captain in 1971before he left Vietnam.
Captain Catley’s awards include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Combat Infantry Badge among other medals and ribbons.
In 1972 Howard started his civilian career at Lincoln High School. He attended Providence College where he earned a master’s degree. In 1976 Howard took over as the Head Varsity Football Coach for over 25 years until 2002. During those years, he produced two state championship teams. The Woonsocket Newspaper along with the Pawtucket Times awarded him with Coach of the Year honors. He was also inducted into the Rhode Island Football Coaches Hall of Fame, the Providence Gridiron Hall of Fame, and finally into the Lincoln High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame.
Howard is a supporter of the Fifth Quarter Club at the University of Rhode Island, the missionary work of the Quidnessett Baptist Church in North Kingstown and the First Baptist Church in Venice, Florida. He married his wife Robyn in 1991has a sister, Susan Wright, and brother, John, who was also in Phi Mu Delta and a URI graduate.
Captain Howard Catley has spent his entire life serving his community and Nation during peace and war. His exemplary devotion to duty, personal bravery and outstanding leadership are in the highest traditions of the military and reflect great credit upon his country, his family, and the University of Rhode Island.