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COL Dwight Eugene “Gene” Howard

COL Dwight Eugene “Gene” Howard

Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa, USA
Death 2 Dec 1973 (aged 49)
San Diego, San Diego County, California, USA
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Memorial ID 18373837 · View Source
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Dwight Eugene "Gene" Howard was born in Des Moines, Iowa and was the second son of Dwight Vincent Howard and Beryl Daisy Mellor. An older brother, Kay, died as a baby of pneumonia.

My Uncle Gene attended school in Des Moines and used to earn money as a young boy delivering the newspaper. His parents divorced and he and his younger brother lived with their mother who ran a beauty salon at their home.

Upon graduation from North High School in 1943, Uncle Gene enlisted in the Marine Corps. After completing boot camp he served in the South Pacific until WWII ended. Once his enlistment was up he attended Iowa State University and graduated with an engineering degree.

Deciding he once again wanted to be a Marine, he applied for and was accepted into the Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia. This led to a long and successful career as a Marine Officer.

While at the VA Hospital in Des Moines, Uncle Gene met an Army nurse, Cecile Mary Jane Audy, a native of Quebec. He converted to Catholicism and they were married at St. Ambrose Cathedral in Des Moines. They were definitely a study in contrasts - he was very fair (we sometimes referred to him as Uncle Pinky) and stood 6'3". Aunt Cel was only 4'11" and featured black hair with an olive complexion.

Working his way up through the ranks, there were moves to Hawaii, Okinawa, Camp Pendleton and to Wisconsin where he taught at Marquette University as part of their ROTC program.

His career culminated with his promotion and appointment as commander of the First Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, where he served until his life was cut short. He had taken my aunt to a doctor visit in early 1973 when the doctor expressed concern for his physical appearance. Tests were ordered and the results indicated he had leukemia.

Understandably, the entire family was stunned and my uncle's hopes to retire as a general were cruelly dashed. In spite of chemotherapy and all the treatment available at that time, his conditon worsened. He was retired as a full Colonel in November, 1973 and died a few weeks later.

After his death, Uncle Gene's body was flown to Virginia and he was buried with full military honors bedfitting his rank at Arlington National Cemetery.

Looking back, it is incredible that living the disciplined life of a dedicated Marine, in excellent physical condition (thanks to daily 4:00 a.m. calisthenics) and serving in three wars - WWII, Korea and Viet Nam - he succumbed to something far more insidious than an enemy bullet.

Family Members


  • Created by: Jane M. Howard
  • Added: 13 Mar 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 18373837
  • Silent One
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for COL Dwight Eugene “Gene” Howard (23 Sep 1924–2 Dec 1973), Find A Grave Memorial no. 18373837, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Jane M. Howard (contributor 46805219) .