Colonel Robert E. Howard, Jr. was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1928 and later moved to Oklahoma City. He was graduated from Central High School and, in June 1946, enlisted into the Navy. He was selected for Aviation Navy ROTC program and returned to Oklahoma A & M (Oklahoma State University) in Stillwater.
In February 1949, after flight training at Pensacola, Florida, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the US Marine Corps. During his service he flew 105 combat missions with VMF-313 in the Korean War. As Commanding Officer of VMFA-122, Marine Air Group-13, he flew 330 combat missions in Vietnam.
His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit with Combat V, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, seven Air Medals, 24 Strike/Flight Air Medals and the Navy Commendation Medal. He participated in the technological revolution in flight operations following World War II. He was test pilot at the Naval Ordnance Test Station, China Lake, California from 1957 to 1960. He was President of the Board of Directors of Meals on Wheels in Vista, California.
He now resides in Oklahoma City, where he is an active member of the Episcopal Church.