During Wednesday's ceremony, Vietnam was veteran Thomas "Stormy" Matteo praised Howell's actions in a FaceTime call to the late 21-year-old's parents and siblings.
The Howell family received a plea that described the student's actions: "It's great with the Honorary Award for the American Hero Award," posthumously to Riley C. Howell Stop at Active Shooter on his college campus. "
Howell charges the shooter after he has opened fire with a pistol in a classroom, tackling" the suspect to the ground covering his body, attempting to stop the attack, "the plaque reads.
Matteo, president of the Purple Heart Society, is the recipient of six Purple Heart medals for action with the Marines in Vietnam.
Howell was remembered earlier this month at a memorial service with military honors.
"Kevin Lee," said Kevin Westmoreland, the father of Howell's girlfriend, Lauren.
"That's right," Riley said in his classroom on that day at the exact time for the sake of saving others. Riley's destiny to sacrifice himself for them. "
According to an obituary for the student," he said, "and" maybe something out of character for him. " , Howell "What an adventurous guy who loved the outdoors, whether that's kayaking through inlets on the ocean, canoeing down cold mountain river, or screaming with excitement as he tried to flip the rope at Fontana Lake."
CNN's Dakin Andone contributed to this report.