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Wiregrass Army Aviation Heritage Foundation Chapter Dedicates New Hangar to LTC William A. Howell


Army Aviation Heritage Foundation’s (AAHF) hangar in Ozark, Alabama, bears the name of a local resident and giant of Army Aviation whose life exemplifies the characteristics of the organization. So said James W. Williams, Ph.D., aviation historian, in a new article, “What’s in a Name?”

According to Williams, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) William A. Howell at age 87 is not widely known among recent-graduate Army Aviators. Howell dismisses comments about his astounding record of “firsts” by saying it’s easy to be first when technology is new. A Montgomery native, his military career began at Fort Benning in 1938. His experiences made him an early Air Assault pioneer. He graduated from the first class for Sikorsky’s new H-34 helicopter and commanded the first company to have this aircraft, allowing key experiments. He was the first Army Presidential helicopter pilot and formed the unit that served Presidents Eisenhower through Ford. A VH-34 helicopter bearing his name as pilot is displayed at the US Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker.

As with Bill Howell, the AAHF and particularly the Wiregrass Chapter strongly reflect creative adaptations in pursuit of large goals. The AAHF arose in 1997 largely as the creation of a father and son. Major General (retired) Morris J. Brady, himself, was an Air Assault pioneer. The non-profit organization preserves and uses vintage Army aircraft, flown by Army veterans, to educate the nation about the Army. In 2000 Brady asked Brigadier General (ret) David Allen -- Vietnam veteran of the First Cavalry Division and living in Ozark -- to form a second chapter, later named Wiregrass.

With encouragement of Mayor/Colonel (ret) Bob Bunting, also a Vietnam-veteran Army Aviator, the Wiregrass Chapter built a hangar on airport land belonging to the City of Ozark. The chapter’s initial mission was restoring aircraft and supporting the parent chapter at air shows. One recent and valuable spin-off is the Cobra Army Sky Soldiers Demonstration Team, which has produced a leap in Army recruiting contacts.

Thus, the lives of both Bill Howell and the AAHF reflect recurrent, powerful threads improving both the Army and the nation. So, too, does naming the hangar - indeed, the existence of any hangar. Read the story by Dr. Williams on Alabama –edited by Betty Meyer


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