Major John Milton Howard took his last flight to be with the Lord on Monday, June 19, 2017.
He was born August 13, 1930, in Bluefield, West Virginia. John was preceded in death by his
parents, William J. Howard Sr. and Bertha B. Howard, brothers William J. Howard Jr., Joseph T.
Howard, and sister Julia A. Howard.
He was the youngest brother of four and he had five younger sisters. His family moved from
West Virginia in May of 1943 to a farm in Vinton, Ohio. In the spring of 1948, prior to his
enlisting into the Air Force, he visited Lockbourne Air Force Base in Columbus, Ohio, with his
older brother, William J. Howard II. John was familiar with the Tuskegee Airmen and the stories
behind their experience. He recalled watching a flight of four P-51’s as they entered the traffic
pattern for landing and it was a sound and sight he would always remember. Four P-51’s peeled
off and landed in formation and four black pilots, parachutes hanging across their backs, strolling
into the Base Operations building chatting among themselves. He remembers saying to his
brother, “That's the way to go if you have to go." He enlisted into the U.S. Air Force on April
20, 1949, in pursuit of his dream. Late in 1951, provisions for aviation cadet training were
made available to field units and John completed the testing with exceptional scores. In the
summer o f 1952, John was accepted for preflight training in May 1953. John M.
Howard was commissioned on August 4, 1954, as a Second Lieutenant and received his pilot
wings. Upon receiving his commission and wings, he was assigned to Nellis AFB, Nevada, for
Fighter Pilot Combat Crew Training.
After the completion of Fighter Pilot training, he was assigned to the 496th Fighter Interceptor
Squadron inLandstuhl, Germany, flying F-86D type aircraft. The relationships he developed
within the 496th would be remembered forever. After finishing his European assignment in
February 1958, he was assigned to Scott AFB, IL to the Communications Officers School,
then reassigned to Custer Air Force Station, Battle Creek, Michigan as a communications officer.
This is where John met and married his lovely spouse Patricia (Grant) Howard.
Now happily married, MAJ Howard had a series of highly successful assignments including
Cold Bay, Alaska; Flight Operations at Wright Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio where he had a
number of progressively important assignments (5 years). In November of 1967 MAJ Howard
was assigned to Southeast Asia (Thailand) as a part of the Vietnam War. He returned back to
Wright Patterson AFB in November 1968. He retired from the Air Force June 1, 1970.
After a stellar Air Force career, starting in the summer of 1970, MAJ Howard pursued his
second career with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). His first position as a Flight
Inspector was with the Tokyo Flight Inspection Group in Japan, where he rose to the Chief of
that organization. From Japan, John’s increased responsibilities took the family to Alaska as the
Chief Aircraft Management Branch, then to Washington Headquarters in November 1977, as
the Chief of the Washington Aircraft Management Branch and the manager of the FAA
Headquarters VIP/Distinguished Visitor of Transportation at RonaldReagan National
Airport, Hanger 6. While in Washington DC, John completed his Masters in Public
Administration through American University and became a member of the famed Tuskegee
Airmen. Early in his career as a pilot he had worked alongside several original Tuskegee
Airmen and fulfilled a dream of being a part of that historic organization.
John finished his career with the FAA as Director for the Aviation Standards Nation Field Office
(AVN) in Oklahoma City as a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES), responsible for
developing national policies to accomplish the Aviation Standards functions. John retired from
the FAA in 1990 after over 40 years of Federal service.
John’s final work chapter is entrepreneurial in nature. After working for a consulting company
for a year he bought the company and renamed it Aero Tech Service Associates (ATSA Inc). It
is a multi-discipline corporation providing contract services in Information Technology,
Technical Training, and other aviation related operations and maintenance services and
consulting. John and his spouse Pat have run the company for the last 25 years with an
Of significant importance is John was many times the only African American in the
organizations he was a part of, which can be difficult. He was many times the only minority in
his advanced training courses as well as being one of the best. He was the only black pilot in a
squadron of 150 pilots early in his career. He finished his federal service as the Director of the
Aviation Standards Division as the only African American to hold that position. Excellence,
curiosity, passion and striving to do the very best are hallmarks of this fine man.
John’s education and credentials include: Masters in Public Health Administration from
American University; Airline Transport Pilot Rating; Over 10,500 flight hours flown in single
and multi-engine jet aircraft.
John’s awards through his career have included many honors in both the military and civilian
Military awards include: National Defense Service Medal with 1 Bronze Service Star, Army of
Occupation Medal (Germany); Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with 4 Oak Leaf
Clusters, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, and Vietnam Service Medal with 3 Bronze Service
Civilian service awards include: FAA Administrator’s Superior Achievement Award; Senior
Executive Performance Award; Special Achievement Awards; Management Systems Director’s
Service Award. His affiliations include the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. and the International Black
He is survived by his beautiful spouse Patricia (Grant) Howard, Oklahoma City, OK; children
Jon Patrick Howard, Austin, TX; and Sheila Renee Butler (Michael), Marietta, GA;
grandchildren Sheyna Hairston Marietta, GA; Taylor Graham-Howard, Santa Barbara, CA;
Michael John Butler, Marietta, GA; siblings Robert L. Howard Sr. (Joyce), Columbus, OH;
Hallie M. Howard, Roseville, CA; Virginia A. Howard Scott, Columbus, OH; Regina Y.
Howard, Detroit, MI; and Audrey M. Velt, Columbus, OH; sister-in law Phyllis Y. Smith (Paul),
Battle Creek, MI; brother in-law Robert C. Grant (Judy), Battle Creek, MI; and numerous nieces,
nephews, cousins and many others who will miss him dearly.
“John Milton Howard................”
To be happy with what you do is – Fulfillment
To be grateful when doing it is – Appreciation
To know what to do is – Wisdom
To know how to do is – Skill
To know when to do is – Judgment
To strive to be your best is – Dedication
To work for the benefit of others is – Compassion
To do that quietly is – Humility
To get the job done is – Achievement
To get others to do all the above is – Leadership
When we think of you John Milton Howard, all of the above comes to mind.
It has been said that when your work is done on earth, then God will call you
home. ‘You are blessed in your journey home because God is on your side.’ Off
you go my dear beloved John.
A very special thanks to all of you who kept his life moving forward in a very endearing way: All
of his Physicians, Visiting Angels, especially Tyrone and Wanda; Epworth Villa Home Services
(Long term memory care) including the administrative staff, chaplain, doctors and nurse
Charlotte, numerous aides and med techs, La Fleur Nails (owners Linda and Ken); Above and
Beyond Style Shop (stylist Floyd Gaston); His office staff, Chris Bloomer, Cheryl Herron, Brad
Simmons and Susan McFarland; Bank 2 CEO, Ross Hill, and staff, Corporate attorneys, Debby
Appel and Cynda Ottaway. A military salute to the Tinker AFB Honor Guard & Bugler, and
Patriot Guard Riders. To Bishop Tony Miller and the Gate Church family who have been a
blessing to us over the many years.
There are so many more whose names we don’t have room to list. Please do not feel left out
because your contribution has certainly been a blessing to us.
‘A Note of Thanks’
To My Precious Church Family, Friends, and Co-workers,
With peace and love I send this note of appreciation and thanks with gratitude to you. Your
kindness has been truly overwhelming all during this season, times that you knew, times that you
didn’t know; yet our prayers, comforting thoughts wonderful acts of kindness always prevailed.
Believe me, I would have never made it without all of you and every little thing you did to help
me maintain and keep moving forward in a positive way. So often it’s the little things that count
the most, words of comfort, prayers of faith, warm thoughts and mental hugs in times such as
As I think of him in the days to come, I shall think of your goodness and kindness toward him for
all the time you’ve known him. I shall think of the wonderful relationship he had with so many of
you who knew him; I shall think of the richness of the times you shared together, the laughter
and the love. I shall carry you in my heart with thanksgiving as you carried him in your hearts
with prayer. You may not realize the support you have given to this family, but we realize what
you have given and I can tell you that it is priceless. Remember this always, my heart says
“thank you” and I do appreciate each and every one of you for all you mean to me, all you’ve
done for me and my family in this time of bereavement. A special bond this has been, one I shall
never forget or ever take for granted.
With my deepest gratitude and sincere appreciation,
Patricia Ann (Grant) Howard and Family
The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious
unto thee: The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.