|HQMC news summary - Nov.2003
One-Armed Marine Continues to Serve
Being a United States Marine is tough
enough, but imagine only having one arm. Col. Timothy Howard lost his arm
about 20 years ago, but he hasn't let that keep him from serving his country.
It's not too often you find a Purple Heart recipient who continues to serve
our country, let alone one who still ranks first class in the Marine Corps
Physical Fitness Test.
Close to 20,000 recruits and Marines
achieve their marksmanship qualifications each year at Parris Island, and
Col. Howard is the man behind it all. Howard serves as the commanding officer
for the Weapons and Field Training Battalion at Parris Island, a position
he serves with pride.
"I love what I'm doing," he
said. "Every day is a good day. There's no such thing as a bad day."
The colonel's attitude has kept him as one of the few and the proud for
25 years, despite a major career setback that left him with an artificial
arm and a limp. It all happened in 1983, when he was deployed to Grenada
on a mission to rescue American students and preserve democracy. But during
the mission, his helicopter was shot down and he lost his right arm and
severely injured his right leg.
Thanks to his co-pilot and fellow crewmembers,
he made it out alive, and it's their memory he keeps sacred. When Howard
was shot down by the enemy in Grenada, his co-pilot rescued him and was
killed in the process. Two men in a second helicopter provided backup and
were shot down and killed during the rescue.
"They are a big part of why I continue
to do this, and why I think it's important," said Col. Howard. Not
only is it a miracle Howard can walk after all that, but he's continued
to pass his physical fitness test requirements with flying colors, running
three miles in less than 26 minutes, which ranks him first class. But,
he says it's more than determination that keeps him on top; it's his Marines.
"Working with the Marines on a
day-to-day basis is spectacular," he said.