Howard left us in September 2007, and it just won't seem the same without him.
Staff Sergeant/B-17 turret gunner Howard Crull was a member of the United States Army Air Corps during World War II, and was a prisoner of war during 1944 to 1945, and even was confined to the infamous Stalag 17-B in Kerms, Austria.
Howard spent his time in the underbelly of the B-17 Flying Fortress, isolated from the rest of the crew, scrunched up in a ball, firing the two .50-caliber machine guns.
On April 13, just before his 20th birthday, his B-17 took fire from anti-aircraft flak, causing the plane to burn, resulting in Howard and eight of his fellow crew members to parachute out.
That is when Howard became a prisoner of war of the German Luftwaffe, first at POW Camp Stalag Du Laft 1 in Oberursel, Germany, and eventually Stalag 17-B immortalized in the 1953 Billy Wilder film "Stalag 17."
Howard entered the infamous Stalag-17 at 130 pounds at the age of 20, and when the war in Europe was over in May 1945, he weighed 95 pounds.
In an age in which many U.S. citizens spend much too much time belittling our country, Howard was a patriot. He knew something many of today's generation don't know. Freedom has a price.
In an age in which our attention span is shorter than a politician's promise kept, Howard knew war was a long, deadly process, with a cost. And he, like so many others of the "greatest generation," believed it was his duty to put his life on hold to serve his country.
A special thanks to P&M Publishing for the information on this great American's life and World War II experiences.
Now, I would like to write verbatim for you, our readers, the final paragraph of the beautiful brochure highlighting Howard's life.
"When released and on his journey back to the U.S.A., he and about 2,000 others were placed aboard a liberty ship for the journey home. Howard often remarked that when the ship entered New York Harbor and passed the Statue of Liberty, he cried like a baby and declared, 'what a site to see.'"
The only way I can explain that feeling to a generation that never has been taught about things like the Bataan Death March, and Nazi concentration camps, is this - you had to be there.
Today, there will be a lot of people who, when they hear Taps being played, also will "cry like a baby," because we have lost our beloved bugler.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.