b. 13/04/1913 Canton, China. d. 18/03/1995 Bay Pines, Florida.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 11/01/1944 Oschersleben, Germany.
Born on April 13, 1913, in Canton (now Guangzhou), China, where his American parents lived at the time while his ophthalmologist father was teaching eye surgery there, Howard returned with his family to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1927. After graduating from John Burroughs School in St. Louis, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Pomona College in Claremont, California, in 1937, intending to follow his father into medicine. Shortly before graduation, however, Howard decided that the life of a Naval Aviator was more appealing than six years of medical school and internship, and he entered the United States Navy as a naval aviation cadet. He began his flight training in January 1938 at Naval Air Station Pensacola, earning his wings a year later.
In 1939, Howard was assigned as a U.S. Navy pilot aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6), based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In June 1941, he left the Navy to become a P-40 fighter pilot with the American Volunteer Group (AVG), the famous Flying Tigers, in Burma. He flew 56 missions and was credited with shooting down six Japanese airplanes. After the Flying Tigers were disbanded on July 4, 1942, Howard returned to the U.S. and was commissioned a captain in the Army Air Forces. In 1943, he was promoted to the rank of major and given command of the 356th Fighter Squadron in the 354th Fighter Group, based in the United Kingdom. As a civilian after the war, Howard was Director of Aeronautics for St. Louis, Missouri, managing Lambert Field while maintaining his military status as a Brigadier General in the United States Air Force Reserve. He later founded Howard Research, a systems engineering business, which he eventually sold to Control Data Corporation. He married Mary Balles in 1948 in a military wedding ceremony. In later years, they were divorced and Howard then married Florence Buteau.
In the 1970s, Howard retired to Belleair Bluffs in Pinellas County, Florida. In 1991, he wrote an autobiography, Roar of the Tiger, chiefly devoted to his wartime experiences.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy near Oschersleben, Germany, on 11 January 1944. On that day Col. Howard was the leader of a group of P-51 aircraft providing support for a heavy bomber formation on a long-range mission deep in enemy territory. As Col. Howard's group met the bombers in the target area the bomber force was attacked by numerous enemy fighters. Col. Howard, with his group, at once engaged the enemy and himself destroyed a German ME. 110. As a result of this attack Col. Howard lost contact with his group, and at once returned to the level of the bomber formation. He then saw that the bombers were being heavily attacked by enemy airplanes and that no other friendly fighters were at hand. While Col. Howard could have waited to attempt to assemble his group before engaging the enemy, he chose instead to attack single-handed a formation of more than 30 German airplanes. With utter disregard for his own safety he immediately pressed home determined attacks for some 30 minutes, during which time he destroyed 3 enemy airplanes and probably destroyed and damaged others. Toward the end of this engagement 3 of his guns went out of action and his fuel supply was becoming dangerously low. Despite these handicaps and the almost insuperable odds against him, Col. Howard continued his aggressive action in an attempt to protect the bombers from the numerous fighters. His skill, courage, and intrepidity on this occasion set an example of heroism which will be an inspiration to the U.S. Armed Forces.
BURIAL LOCATION: ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA.
Section 34, Lot 2571
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