Easy company, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division
Born August 17, 1921, in Los Angeles, California
WWII Service: 1943-1946
Howard was building fighter plane fuselages at a California plant when he heard about the Pearl Harbor attack. He planned to join the Army’s airborne division as soon as possible, but due to color-blindness he trained as an Army engineer instead.
When replacements were called up after heavy U.S. casualties in the Normandy campaign, Howard finally became a paratrooper, joining the elite unit nicknamed the “Screaming Eagles.” The brutal training regime did not deter him: “I wanted to be a paratrooper so badly, by the time I got in the plane, I wanted to go.”
Howard remembered arriving in Bastogne at dawn with excitement. It was his first combat experience and “people were cheering and clapping as we marched through.” But the memories of days crouched in a foxhole with a machine gun in blinding fog and snow, the air crackling and flashing with gunfire, were chaotic and terrifying. “I seldom saw someone to aim at. It was mass confusion.”
Howard said his comrades never doubted the Allies would prevail. When Bastogne’s weather cleared, American bombers swooped in to fire on the enemy. “The time at the front was not a bad time for me. I’m proud of the guys I fought with.”