Veteran takes par t in Honor Flight

Lisa Ingebrand,

Vietnam veteran Roger Howland, who lives part-time in Waterville, poses for a photo near the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Forest City, Iowa, resident participated in the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight out of Fort Dodge, Iowa, on August 28. (Photo courtesy of Roger Howland)

Roger Howland was 25 when he was drafted into the U.S. Army.

He was fresh out of college, having just earned his Business Degree, when he was told to report for duty.

Howland served during the Vietnam War from 1962 until 1964, spending the majority of his time working as a data control specialist at the Pentagon where he processed top-secret reports. Both the Cuban Missile Crisis and President John F. Kennedy’s assassination occurred while he worked at the United States Department of Defense’s headquarters, but because of the top-secret status of the information he handled, he was never allowed to talk about his work.

“I can tell you I lived only 15 miles away (from the Pentagon), but it took me 45 minutes to get there,” he recalled with a laugh.

At the time, the country’s political climate was volatile with large crowds protesting the Vietnam War.

“On my last day at the Pentagon, one of my commanders told me he wanted to shake my hand. He thanked me for my work, and asked me what my plans were after my time there. Well, I told him I wanted to see Times Square, go to the World Fair, and see Niagara Falls… He just looked at me for awhile, and then said, ‘Do me a favor. Don’t wear your uniform.’ Things were just that bad in the country,” Howland shared with a slow, sad shake of his head. “Guys who were serving overseas— going through hell—weren’t being recognized for their service. Heck, they might’ve been in danger if they wore their uniform some places… It was a real difficult time.”

Howland eventually moved back to Iowa, had a successful career as a salesman, and started living in Waterville, Minnesota, part-time about 44 years ago.

While he’s always been...

To see more on this story pick up the September 16, 2021 print edition of the LifeEnterprise.



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