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Thomas D. Howie

116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division

Major, U.S. Army

Entered the Service from:

Virginia

Died:

7/17/1944

Grave Location:

Plot G, Row 14, Grave 12

Maj. Thomas D. Howie during his senior year as a star football player for The Citadel in 1928.

Maj. Thomas D. Howie was born in Abbeville, S.C. and graduated in 1929 from The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, where he was president of his class and a star halfback on the football team. He taught English and coached at Staunton Military Academy before joining the Virginia National Guard.

Maj. Thomas D. Howie with his wife Elizabeth Payne.
Howie and his daughter Sally in Staunton, Virginia, 1942.
Howie poses for a picture in his U.S. Army uniform.

Howie entered active duty with the 116thInfantry Regiment in 1941 and landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day. On July 13, 1944, Howie was assigned to command the 3rdBattalion. Four days later, the battalion used hand grenades and bayonets to break through German lines and join the 2ndBattalion, which was isolated and nearly out of food and ammunition. Howie planned to use the 3rdBattalion alone to capture St. Lô. He phoned 29thDivision commander, Maj. Gen. Charles Gerhardt before the attack, and told him  “See you in St. Lô,” and issued orders for the attack. Shortly afterward, Howie was killed by shrapnel during a mortar assault.

Draped in the American flag, the body of Maj. Howie rests in the ruins of St. Croix church in St. Lo, July 18, 1944.

At Gerhardt’s request, Howie’s body was placed on the hood of the lead jeep so he would be the first American to enter the town. The photo of Howie’s flag-draped body in the rubble of St. Croix cathedral was widely circulated in the United States and became one of the most iconic images of the war. He is still known as the “The Major of St. Lô” and a monument to him is located in the center of the town.

Memorial to Howie in St. Lo, France.

Awards: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, French Croix de Guerre

Thomas D. Howie is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot G, Row 14, Grave 12.