John R. Howard – Staff Sergeant, United States Marine Corps

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 782-04

DoD Identifies Marine Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Staff Sergeant John R. Howard, 26, of Covington, Virginia
Lance Corporal Tavon L. Hubbard, 24, of Reston, Virginia

Both Marines died August 11, 2004, in a helicopter crash in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

Howard was assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 166 (Reinforced), 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California.

Hubbard was assigned to the Command Element, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.

The incident is under investigation.

A helicopter crash in Iraq last week claimed the life of a Marine keeping alive a family tradition of military service, his brother said yesterday.

Staff Sergeant John R. Howard, 26, of Covington was one of two Marines from Virginia who died Wednesday in the crash in Al Anbar Province, the U.S. Department of Defense said. Also killed was Lance Corporal Tavon L. Hubbard, 24, of Reston.

Howard was a crew chief of a CH-53 helicopter assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465 based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, a release from the base said.

Hubbard was assigned to I Marine Expeditionary Force at the Marine base in Camp Pendleton, California, the military said.

The crash was still under investigation, the military said yesterday.

Howard's mother, Kathryn Howard of Covington, told The Associated Press the helicopter was on a supply mission when it caught fire and went down with five Marines aboard.

Howard, the youngest of three brothers, entered the Marines right after graduating from Alleghany High School in 1996. He followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, James Ludington, who was also a Marine sergeant, said Howard's oldest brother, Alan Howard.

John Howard's father, Greg Howard, is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, and his brother Derek Howard serves in the Navy, Alan Howard said.

John Howard enjoyed hunting and fishing and spending time with wife, Amie, and his two stepchildren, Sean, 7, and Kaitlyn, 5.

He was passionate about his job, Alan Howard said. “He died doing exactly what he wanted to do: being a Marine and flying.”

John Howard's latest tour as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom was his second. He was first deployed in the region from January until July 2003. He left for his second stint June 28, Alan Howard said.

He believed very strongly in the military operation there and returned to service in Iraq without reservations, Alan Howard said.

“He told us that not only did he have to go back there, he wanted to go,” his brother said. “He wanted to be over there to help those people secure their freedom.”

John Howard's parents were able to visit him in California in May. He last e-mailed his family Aug. 8 to let them know he was OK, but very busy. He told Alan Howard he loved him, his brother said.

DATE OF DEATH: 08/11/2004



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