Veteran Salute: Whether fixing an airplane or building a home, a local vet got the job done

Veteran Salute

Military service was all about new experiences for our Veteran Salute.  

Whatever job he was given, he found a way to get it done.  

Howard Hamilton spent his first few years in the service state side and would eventually take his skills over to serve in Japan as well.  

There he says he saw a disconnect between what was happening in the war and what people read about it at home.

“That was the first time I was 100 miles from home!” laughs Howard, referring to when he reported for the draft. 

Howard reported for the draft in 1940 and was asked if he had any objection to being part of the Army Air Corps Grounds Crew.

“You didn’t have any objections to that when we knew of all these people over there fighting in Europe and fox holes and stuff, having a heck of a time,” remembers Howard.

So Howard says he fought the battle of Texas for three years taking care of the P-47 fighter plane.

“Whatever that airplane needed that was their job. They only assigned one man to each airplane,” says Howard.

Howard had no previous experience with aircraft before entering the military.  

He learned quickly, remembering a time when wind blew something across the airfield that bit the bombay door of an airplane and put a hole in it.

“I had to patch that,” says Howard. “I’d never even seen a rivet before!  It took me about a half a day to patch that and get it all fixed up.”

As Howard learned some skills, he admits that job would have later taken him only a half hour.

Eventually, Howard would head to San Francisco, preparing to deploy overseas to Japan.  

He got some good news while waiting for his ship.

“By golly all at once the war was over!  But I went anyway.  That made it a good trip,” laughs Howard.

It was in Japan while staying with a Japanese soldier he says he observed how the Japanese viewed human life.

“When they dropped bombs all around him there in the town he was living, he said bodies just flew and he was laughing!” says Howard.  “But he had a famous old guitar up on a shelf in his house. When they dropped a bomb that guitar fell off the shelf and broke.  That wasn’t funny at all!”

Howard was discharged in 1945 and remembers reading accounts of the war in Japan in the Beacon when he got back home.

“One of the articles was about how the Japanese man were just like any other man, the other was about how bad they were,” remembers Howard.  “I said the problem with these people is they were never in Japan.”

Howard got married in 1946 and had three daughters.  

With no construction experience, he managed to build his family a home here in Wichita while working for Boeing.  

Now at 96, he still walks half a mile every morning.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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