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Archives at The Museum of Flight

James H. Howard Fighter Ace Collection

Identifier: 2021-10-01
The James H. Howard Fighter Ace Collection contains textual, photographic, and audiovisual materials in support of James H. Howard's Medal of Honor awarded in June 1944. Materials include military records, clippings, and photographs, among others. Due to the collection's small size, it has been arranged alphabetically.

Howard was awarded the Medal of Honor in June 1944 for actions taken on January 11, 1944, the only fighter pilot in the European Theater to earn the distinction. Supporting materials within the collection include Howard's mission report, the mission schedule, statements of recommendation, clippings and articles about his experience, and the award citation signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Additional materials include an undated film titled "One Man Air Force" and an audiocassette recorded on September 28, 1979 with "General James Howard's comments on January 11, 1944."

Also in the collection are 15 photographs and 8 negatives. Most depict Howard with his P-51, alone, or with unidentified military personnel. There are two 1994 prints that feature an exhibit put on display at "Heritage Park Museum" (location unknown). One is a photographic reproduction of a painting by Glenn Bavousett. It depicts "Ding Hao!" in combat over Germany on January 11, 1944. The prints are mostly black-and-white and are a mix of casual and posed shots. Size varies from 3x5 inches to 8x10 inches. Very few include contextual information, such as names, dates, or locations. Duplication occurs.


  • 1944-1994
  • Majority of material found in 1944


Conditions Governing Access

The audiocassette and 16mm film are not available, pending preservation measures. The remainder of the collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


.30 Cubic Feet (1 half-width letter size document box, 1 oversize folder (20x24"), 1 audiocassette, 1 16mm film reel)

Biographical Note: James H. Howard

James H. Howard (1913-1995) was a fighter ace and Colonel in the United States Air Force. He is known for being the only fighter pilot in the European Theater of Operations in World War II to earn the Medal of Honor.

James Howell Howard was born on April 8, 1913 in Canton, China to Harvey J. and Maude I. (Strobel) Howard. By 1930, the Howard family had moved to St. Louis, Missouri. Howard graduated from John Burroughs School in 1932. He then attended Pomona College in Claremont, California and earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1937 with a plan to follow his father into medicine. However, Howard changed his mind and on December 29, 1937 he entered the United States Navy as a naval aviation cadet.

He began flight training in early 1938 at Naval Air Station Pensacola and earned his wings in 1939. Howard was based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and assigned as a pilot aboard the USS Enterprise (CV-6). He left the Navy in June 1941 to join the American Volunteer Group (AVG), also known as the Flying Tigers, in Burma as a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk pilot. During his time with the Flying Tigers he flew 56 missions and earned ace status with six aerial victories against Japanese airplanes. After the July 1942 disbandment of the Flying Tigers, he returned to the United States as a Captain in the Army Air Forces where he was trained to fly the Lockheed P-38 Lightning and Bell P-39 Aircobra. A year later he was promoted to Major and took command of the 356th Fighter Squadron flying North American P-51 Mustangs in the 354th Fighter Group based in England.

On January 11, 1944, Howard flew his P-51 "Ding Hao!" alone into approximately 30 Luftwaffe fighters that were attacking a formation of 401st Bomb Group B-17 Flying Fortresses over Oschersleben, Germany. Howard defended the bombers alone for more than half-an-hour and shot down six enemy aircraft. He continued to dive on enemy planes after his aircraft ran out of ammunition. For his actions, he earned a promotion to Lieutenant Colonel and in June 1944 General Carl Spazt presented him with the Medal of Honor. Howard is the only fighter pilot from the European Theater to win the Medal of Honor. Later that month, Howard helped direct fighter planes providing cover the D-Day landings on Normandy Beach. At the start of 1945, Howard was promoted to Colonel and assigned to base commander of Pinellas Army Air Field, his last assignment prior to leaving regular military service.

Post-war, Howard was the Director of Aeronautics at Lambert Field as well as a Brigadier General in the Air Force Reserve. In 1961 he founded Howard Research, a systems engineering company. In 1965, he sold his company and retired from the Air Force Reserve. Howard moved to Belleair Bluffs, Florida in the late 1970s. In 1991, he published his autobiography, Roar of the Tiger.

Howard married his first wife, Mary G. Welch, in 1948 although the couple divorced in 1949. In 1953, he married his second wife, Florence Buteau. The couple divorced in 1957. James H. Howard died on March 18, 1995 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Related Materials at The Museum of Flight

The Museum of Flight Archives also holds his Medal of Honor as well as a painting of Howard.

Related collections include the Flying Tigers Association Collection, online at and the Robert Neale Flying Tigers Collection, online at

There are also multiple collections pertaining to fighter aces, including the American Fighter Aces Oral Interviews at For more information, contact us.

Separated Materials

The following item was separated from the archival component and sent to the Library:

  • Airman, February 1986
Guide to the James H. Howard Fighter Ace Collection
Completed - Level 2
Jenn Parent
2023 April
Description rules
Edition statement
1st edition

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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