Sins of Omission

James Howard: Two-Theater Double Ace

One would think the only American fighter pilot to earn the Medal of Honor in World War II in Europe would be remembered and honored, or at least mentioned in history textbooks in high school and college.  No such luck today.  For those of us who grew up in the aftermath of the Second World War, however, this was fortunately not the case.  The heroes of the war loomed large—in newspapers, magazines, books, newsreels, and movies.  Their names were frequently dropped in conversations among adults, and their stories were passed on down to us kids.  I was enthralled.

One of the first balsa-wood models I made was of a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk.  I couldn’t read all the directions in the kit, but I could follow the illustrations.  The final touch was 0419-mcgrath4applying the decal of the shark’s open mouth on the front of the fuselage, an image that was ideally suited for the plane.  I then had my own little version of the plane flown by the Flying Tigers in China and Burma.  One of those Tigers was Jim Howard.

James Howell Howard was born in Canton, China, in 1913, to American parents.  His ophthalmologist father was serving as a missionary, teaching Chinese medical students eye surgery.  In 1927 the family returned to the United States,...

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