Howard Arthur Stevens
AFRH-G Veteran Highlight – Howard Arthur Stevens
By Lori Kerns, AFRH-G Librarian
Howard Arthur Stevens was born in the Iron Range area of Minnesota. He was the second of three children born to a railroad worker and housewife. As a teen, he and his two friends had gotten into some trouble with the law. Howard was fortunate enough that his parole officer convinced the judge that he would be better off serving in the military than going to jail. The judge agreed and the 18-year-old was sent off to boot camp in California to serve in the U. S. Army.
After basic training, Howard was sent a little north of San Francisco. He was not very happy with his new assignment so he went to talk to his commanding officer. The officer told him that if he gave him $5.00, he would send him to Japan. He accepted the offer and was sent to Japan, where he stayed until he was sent to fight in the Korean War. As part of the 21st Infantry ground troops, he was one of the first soldiers to arrive in Korea. Within 17 days, he was captured and held as a POW for 37 months. He was freed when the North Koreans decided they wanted to exchange prisoners. Upon his release, Howard was processed at a Japanese hospital. He was sent back to the States once he was well and made the decision to leave the Army.
Finding work was proving to be extremely difficult. He decided the best option for his young family was for him to reenlist. However, at the time the Army was not accepting men with dependents so he told them he did not have any. He waited several months before submitting for an allotment to support his children.
Howard was sent for more training, which included graduating from Pathfinder and Ranger school. His hard work and dedication earned him a spot on the 1st Special Forces Group. He was sent to Vietnam with this team as part of the war efforts. Each member of this team was a specialist in their own field, in addition to being experts in military weapons and guerilla warfare. As a Special Forces advisor, Howard had to select a site for a camp and enlist help from the local tribe to clear land, construct buildings, and an airstrip. He had to use two interpreters to accomplish this mission. One interpreter had to translate from English to Vietnamese and the other from Vietnamese to the local tribe’s language of Koho. Meanwhile, his officers had very little knowledge of his mission until it was over.
When Howard finally ended his military career, he retired as an E-8 with four Purple Hearts, two Silver Stars, and three Bronze Stars. His efforts in Vietnam were recently aired in Ken Burns’ documentary, The Vietnam War.
Once retired, he began a civilian career working in Las Vegas as a jail guard. This was quite a change of pace for someone who was used to having little to no supervision. Nevertheless, he remained working at the Clark County Detention Center for 28 years before he retired at the age of 74.
Howard now calls AFRH-G his home. According to him, it was a great move and that there is not any place in the world he would rather be. AFRH-G is proud to pay it forward to this hard-working soldier by providing a happy home to enjoy his well-earned retirement.