More detail on this person: Cullum No. 27671 o Oct 25, 2014 o Died in Fairfax, VA Cremated. Inurned. ________________________________________ Howard Francis Harper, known by all his friends as 'Howie,' was born in Storm Lake, IA on March 26, 1946. He was the older son of Howard (Shorty) and Louise Harper, and was a 1964 graduate of Storm Lake's Central District High School. Howie was an excellent high school student and football player, and had several scholarship offers to play football at Iowa colleges. However, because Howie's father had served in the Army during World War II and had instilled in Howie a desire to serve, Howie elected to apply to West Point. Howie was one of 993 new cadets who entered the Academy on July 1, 1964. Howie very quickly adapted to cadet life, and his intelligence and athletic skill quickly gained him respect from both classmates and upperclassmen. Even as a plebe, Howie's unlimited capacity for fun became evident. He approached plebe duties with a marvelous sense of humor, which sometimes caused Howie conflicts with superiors. Howie had a remarkable ability to push hard on authority without crossing into dangerous territory. Despite all his escapades, he never walked a single punishment tour! When Howie competed in intramural athletics at West Point, he did so with vigor. He was known among his intramural footbal companymates as a fierce defensive lineman and a very skilled intramural lacrosse player. He mastered the technique of cradling a lacrosse ball very quickly and, despite playing defense, often scored goals for his team. In the autumn of 1966, Howie was walking out of the East Barracks sallyport one Saturday afternoon when he noticed a professional photo shoot in progress, using Bartlett Hall as background. Walking closer, Howie became entranced with the young female model that was the focal point of activity. Her name was Suzanne Hunt, and she was a recent graduate of New York's Fashion Institute of Technology. Howie found a way to talk to Suzanne and, after a brief conversation, asked her out on a date. She agreed, and Howie and Suzanne almost immediately fell in love. Despite Howie's proclivity to enjoy the company of the ladies, once Howie and Suzanne became a couple, he remained true to her. Suzanne lived on Long Island with her parents, and she visited Howie at West Point almost every weekend. Suzanne and Howie became engaged during Ring Weekend of Howie's First Class Year and shared all the activities of First Class Year together: the Ring Hop, the Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia, Mobilization Day and finally Graduation on June 5, 1968. Howie and Suzanne were married on June 8, 1968 in the Cadet Chapel at West Point. In August they moved to Fort Benning, GA, where Howie was to begin Ranger School. One of the prerequisites for entering Ranger School was passing a swimming test. Despite Howie's athletic prowess, he had been a member of the Rock Squad as a cadet and never learned to swim well. Howie took the Ranger swimming test several times but was never able to pass it. Finally, the Ranger cadre gave up and sent Howie off to the Signal Corps Officer Basic Course at Fort Monmouth, NJ. Howie and Suzanne were off to start a career in the Army! After Fort Monmouth, Howie and Suzanne were assigned to the 123rd Signal Battalion in Germany. Nine months later, in July 1969, their son Dan was born. Soon thereafter, Howie was accepted at Flight School. After graduating, he was assigned to the 229th Aviation Battalion in Vietnam. While he was on combat duty, Howie's second son, Tim, was born. Howie returned from Vietnam to attend the Signal Officers' Career Course at Fort Gordon, GA. From there, Howie and his growing family moved to Fort Hood, TX , where in March 1975 his third son, Jon, came into the world. In 1978, Howie and Suzanne jumped at the chance to move to Iran with the U.S. military advisory group there. They were "guests of the Shah" and were allowed unlimited household goods, all expenses paid. The idyllic assignment changed abruptly in December 1978 when the Shah was deposed. Suzanne and the boys left Iran in the dead of night with two suitcases each, while Howie stayed on for six months! After Iran, Howie had assignments in Washington, DC, Korea and Virginia. Howie retired from the Army in 1988, after 20 years of service. Howie became a defense contractor and computer modeler for several commercial companies. He did well in his second career and progressed through technical management at several different places of business. In the early 1990s, Suzanne began to notice numbness in her legs that never abated. Tests showed that she had contracted multiple sclerosis, and unfortunately the disease progressed rapidly. Suzanne detested hospitals and rehabilitation centers; so, as the disease progressed, her youngest son, Jon, moved back into the family household to assist Howie in taking care of her. Howie finally retired in 2011, and he and Jon became Suzanne's primary caregivers. In April 2014, Suzanne finally succumbed to her 20-year battle with MS. Howie was devastated at losing Suzanne and never really recovered from the shock of her passing. His famed sense of humor finally left him. He became depressed and lonely without her. On October 24, while at home with Jon, Howie began having trouble breathing. Paramedics arrived at his house almost immediately, but Howie underwent cardiac arrest and died the next day. Those who mourn Howie's passing have the satisfaction of knowing that he died quickly and painlessly. He was a loyal and faithful officer, husband, father and grandfather. All who knew Howie, while saddened by his loss, are the better for having been his friend and companion.
Burial information: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA
This information was last updated 12/13/2017
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Date posted on this site: 04/14/2021
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