Breathitt Boy Killed in Europe

By Stephen D. Bowling

MARCH 25, 1945 – World War II raged in Europe in the months following the Normandy Invasion. Local papers across the nation printed the sad announcements of the deaths of young soldiers. Jackson was not exempt from these terrible statements.

The editors of The Jackson Times always walked a tightwire to achieve a fair balance of negative news with the positive happenings of the community to help maintain “war morale” at home. Family members also sent papers to hundreds of soldiers stationed across the world. Too much sad news could have impacted soldiers. The paper struck a fair equilibrium, but they could not ignore the death of a local soldier.

News came to Bertie (Whitaker) Moore by telegraph from the War Department during the third week of April 1945, her son, John E. Howard, was listed among many soldiers severely wounded in action in the air over Germany on March 24. The next day a letter came in the mail from the United States Army and informed Mrs. Moore of her son’s promotion on March 23, the day before he was wounded, to the rank of Second Lieutenant.

Notice of Lieutenant Howard’s wounding appeared in The Jackson Times on Thursday, April 19, 1945.

The Howard and Moore families received no further news from the Army, leaving his Breathit County kin little to do but worry and pray. Their many questions were answered when a military car and two uniformed men arrived at the Moore home in South Jackson to deliver the sad news of John Howard’s death in the form of a letter from his unit’s chaplain.

The Jackson Times printed the following obituary on the front page of the May 31, 1946 edition of the paper:

Lieut. John Moore Is Slain In ETO Battle Chaplain Writes

2nd Lieut. John E. Howard, son of Mrs. Bertie H. Moore, of Jackson, died March 25 of wounds received in action, while participating in the invasion of Germany, on the preceding day, word to his mother advised several days ago.

A member of the 435th Troop Carrier Group, 2nd Lieut. Howard had served overseas for several months with the glider-borne soldiers and had received his commission as an officer only a short time prior to his death. A letter from the Chaplain of his unit to Mrs. Moore stated that the combat mission which he and others carried out and on which he received his fatal wounds “contributed immeasurably to the success of the Allied drives.”

He was laid to rest in the American Military Cemetery, Margarten, Holland.

2nd Lieut. Howard was well known here and attended Breathitt High School prior to his entrance into the armed forces.

The Jackson Times, May 31, 1945, page 1

Like so many Breathitt County soldiers in World War, Howard was buried in a military cemetery in Margarten, Holland. Following the war, Howard was disinterred and brought back to Breathitt County at the family’s request. He was buried in the Jackson Cemetery, where he rests today.

The family purchased a headstone for 2nd Lieutenant John E. Howard.
The military provided a footstone to identify the military service and burial location of Lt. John E. Howard’s grave.

Lieutenant John E. Howard is one of the many Breathitt County heroes whose memory has faded, but we must make every effort to ensure that we never forget.

© 2023 Stephen D. Bowling

About sdbowling

Director of the Breathitt County Public Library and Heritage Center in Jackson, Kentucky.
This entry was posted in Breathitt County, Jackson, Military, World War II and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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