CPL John Sylvester Howe
30th Infantry Division, 119th Infantry Regiment, Company C
KIA 12 July 1944, Pont Hebert, France
Buried at Normandy American Cemetery (F-15-25)
The Father of Annis "Dale" Howe Sisco
-- Annis "Dale" Howe Sisco --
John Sylvester Howe ("Johnny," as his family and friends called him) was born on March 21, 1919, to Horace and Addie Howe, in Thalmann, Georgia, a
rural community near Brunswick. He was the fourth of eight children, two of which still survive. As a very young man, he worked in turpentine or
picking tobacco to help the family. Later he worked in a grocery store while living with his father in Jacksonville, Florida. He was fun-loving
and enjoyed playing the guitar and singing.
Daddy enlisted in the National Guard and was called to active duty on November 25, 1940. He trained at Camp Blanding, near Jacksonville, Florida,
and was a member of the 31st Infantry Division, 124th Infantry Regiment, Company G. In 1942 they went to Louisiana on maneuvers. He was later
stationed at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. In January 1944 he was sent to Camp Attleboro, Indiana, where he was assigned to the 30th Division,
119th Infantry Regiment, Company C, which had already been there for about two months. On February 1, they were transported by train to Boston,
Massachusetts. They had been issued "light" clothes, so they thought they were going to the Pacific, but wondered why they were headed east. When
they arrived at Camp Myles Standish on February 2, they were told to exchange their "light" clothes for "heavy" clothes; and they left for England
on February 12, 1944 aboard the SS Brazil during a blinding snowstorm. They arrived in Liverpool, England, on February 22, 1944 and proceeded to the
south coast of England by train, where they conducted intensive training until they left for France. The 119th arrived in France on June 10th and
evidently saw combat almost immediately. His last letter was dated July 7th, just before days of intense fighting. According to research, I believe
he was one of nine members of the 119th killed by a mortar attack on the morning of July 12, north of Pont Hebert.
My mother, Alma Harrison, and my father were married on February 7, 1943, during one of his trips home from Ft. Benning, Georgia. She was able to be
with him in Ft. Benning for a few months, but returned home to Brunswick to await my birth. His last trip home was unexpected and happened to be the
day that I was born, December 24, 1943. Thankfully, he was there and was able to hold and kiss me, but had to leave in just two short days. Mama
didn't know that it would be the last time she ever saw him.
Daddy turned 25 while he was in England, and was never able to fulfill any of his lifetime dreams. His many letters to my mother were so sweet and
full of love. He mentioned in several that he wanted to build her a "little house" anywhere she liked after the war and it was evident that he just
wanted to make her happy.
After the war, my mother, together with his mother, decided to let him rest in the Normandy American Cemetery along with so many other soldiers, as a
funeral service several years after his death would have been like losing him for a second time, and they just couldn't face that. I personally wish
they would have brought him home, where I could have visited his grave. But now I know that he is resting in a beautiful place and is being cared for
and remembered. Presidents and kings have paid their respects to him and those who rest along side him.
When I was small, I remember wondering if I really had a daddy, if he really existed or whether they just made him up. His picture hung on the wall, but
it was just a picture. The pain of being one of perhaps three children without fathers in my school made me feel very different, very alone. I always
wondered what it would be like to have a daddy. I wish I could have asked more questions about him through the years, but the huge lump in my throat
always got in the way. As I grew older, I often hoped that he would one day miraculously appear, with exciting stories of his survival for all those
years. I would think that maybe he had been held prisoner of war somewhere and would escape and come home.
In 1998 I received his many letters from my mother; and as I began to read them, I gained an insight that I never expected to have about this man, my
Daddy. He fully expected to live! His hope and prayer was that the war would be over soon and he would come home to his wife and daughter. He wrote of
his deep love for my mother; and when I read that he loved me, my heart did a little flip. He loved me! How sad that I never felt his love until that
moment. How precious, those words!
Alice Harrison, my beloved maternal grandmother, loved my father dearly and always told me that he was so sweet and very handsome, and his hair was so
curly that you couldn't tell which end was attached. One day after he was killed, but before they received the news, Grandma saw him in his uniform
walking down the country road toward her. She was so excited and looked away for an instant; then, when she looked back, he was gone. She often said
that she saw him as plain as day. I believe it. I believe he came home.
By his daughter and only child,