39th Bomb Group (VH)



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S/Sgt Lewis E. Howard
Replacement Tail Gunner

S/Sgt Lewis Howard

Lewis Howard, whose hometown was Fredericksburg, VA, was initially on Captain Paquette's ill-fated Crew 52, having flown seven combat missions with that crew.

Howard took ill on the day of 25 May (1945) and had to remain behind on a maximum effort night strike against Tokyo. Capt. Paquette and his crew did not return that day. Lewis, by fate, sat disconsolately on his cot waiting and praying for his crew's safe return. But this did not happen and after a couple of days, P-52 and all her crew were officially listed as "Missing In Action"

Inasmuch as Lewis was now without a crew, and P-44 was short a tail gunner, he was asked by A/C Payne to fill this slot. Howard readily accepted.

"Howie" flew the following twelve missions with Crew 44 accumulating a total of nineteen by the war's end.

Following the raid on Mito, he joined other members of P-44 for R and R leave on Hickam. The war ended during this time. It is believed that Lewis returned to stateside by troop ship, as did the other members of P-44, excepting Captain Payne. The latter, was allowed to return to North Field to retrieve as many of the crew's personal belongings as he could. Payne managed to take "Slim II" on one last flight - the massive "Show of Force" over Tokyo Bay at the time the Japanese surrender occurred aboard the battleship "Missouri."

Lewis Howard ended his wartime service with the rank of Staff Sergeant. It is believed that in addition to other decorations, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross and 3 Air Medals, and Two Distinguished Unit Citations.

He returned to Fredericksburg, VA, and in 1947 married Margaret whom he had first met in 1944. For many years he was employed in civil service at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Laboratories at Fort Belvor, VA, serving as a chief maintenance mechanic.

Lewis and Margaret have two children Peggy Lou and Danny Lee. Both are married and have between them presented their parents with five grandchildren. Margaret started her own successful interior decorating business. Lewis became involved in the transportation business. He saw the need for better commuter service between Fredericksburg and Fort Belvor and purchased some buses. The business grew and he added more and, according to reports, the business is still flourishing.

Lewis also disclosed that he had been in touch with one of the blister gunners, a survivor of his original crew led by Captain Paquette. With their plane in flames all had perished with the exception of himself and the other side gunner. The aforementioned crewmen informed Howard that the Japanese had captured the other gunner but he was fortunate enough to be taken by some friendly Japanese citizens who hid him in their home. After while he felt he could not elude capture indefinitely so he slipped away quietly with the intention of making his way to the coast and conceivably swimming out to an Air-Sea Rescue submarine. This bold plan did not succeed, however, and he was captured and imprisoned. Somehow, despite inhumane treatment, he managed to survive and was freed after the Japanese surrender. He felt that he had heard the voice of his crewmate in a nearby cell but was never really certain.

Lewis and Margaret hosted a P-44 reunion in Fredericksburg in 1988. Though Lloyd and his wife were unable to attend it was an exciting and enjoyable occasion. Tom Brennen later reported that he and his wife and the Smiths had the opportunity to tour the nearby Civil War battlefields - a memorable experience for them all.

Lewis E. Howard took his Final Flight on 14 June 2007. Services were held 18 June followed by burial at Sunset Memorial Gardens. Mr. Howard was 82 yrs old. 

Crew 44 Main Page
62nd Squadron Crew Index
Source:Lloyd B. Volkmar, Crew 44 Historian for the book "History of the 39th Bomb Group";
Excerpt from the obituary of Lewis E. Howard - found in the Free Lance-Star - published 16 June 2007.