Leamon Eugene (Pete) Howell
Leamon Eugene Howell, known to his family in Florida as "Eugene" and his friends and colleagues as "Pete," died peacefully on Monday, June 24, 2019, at a hospice in Arlington, VA. He leaves his beloved wife of 65 years, Ruth, and their 3 children and 5 grandchildren, on whom he doted. He was a family man who led a full and remarkable life, from his rural roots in Live Oak, Florida to a distinguished military career that took him to Korea, Vietnam, Europe and many parts of the United States.
Pete was born on March 17, 1933, as the eldest of six siblings. His father was a skilled carpenter and farmer, and Pete and his three brothers -- Paul, Edward and Walter -- pitched in to help build the family house in Live Oak, FL. Although Pete maintained deep roots in Live Oak, he was eager to see the world. After graduating from Suwannee High School, he received a merit scholarship to attend the University of Florida, becoming the first in his family to go to college and, later, the first to earn an advanced degree. His two sisters - Maxine and Shirley -followed him to college.
In college, Pete became a loyal fraternity brother in Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR), which cemented his life-long love of a good party. In his senior year, Pete met and courted his future wife, Ruth Bronsweig, a northerner who was earning her master's degree in Biology. Immediately after Pete's graduation, they eloped and began a life that would take them around the world.
Pete was commissioned in the U.S. Army, heading early on to Airborne and then Ranger School. He participated in the Army's 1957 testing in Nevada of the effects of actual atomic blast conditions on Army helicopter defenses. After a tour of duty in Korea he served twice in the Vietnam War, first in 1968-1969, with the 1st Infantry Division (Big Red One) and, again, in 1971-1972, with the101st Airborne Division. He commanded the last battalion of the 101st Division in Vietnam that provided cover for the withdrawal of the 101st Division from that country. His battalion was specially selected for this task because it was considered the best and most proficient firing unit without a single "friendly fire" incident.
Pete was then assigned to Fort Hood, TX, where he worked on high-tech tools for the military and helped develop GPS, now an indispensable tool for millions of Americans. He left Texas for an assignment to NATO, where he was responsible for Pershing missile operations and became Chief of the War Plans section for the Allied Forces in Central Europe. His final posting brought him to the Pentagon and he decided to remain in this area after retirement. Retiring from the military, Pete began a second career as a real estate broker and, with Ruth by his side, successfully grew his own business in Northern Virginia. Ever the optimist, he rented a large office and filled it with desks and phones; his children were skeptical but he filled every desk in short order. Century 21 Howell and Associates thrived for the next twenty years.
Pete will be remembered as a man devoted to his family, his friends and a life of public service. Funeral services were held on Friday, June 28, 2019, at 2 PM at Murphy Funeral Home, 4510 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA. He will be interned at Arlington National Cemetery.
Published on October 28, 2019


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Oct 28, 2019