Gen. Hamilton Howze; Father of Air Cavalry

From a Times Staff Writer

Gen. Hamilton Hawkins Howze, whose military career began with the horse cavalry and ended in the Vietnam era of helicopter warfare--which he pioneered--died Dec. 8 in Fort Worth. He was 89.

Considered the father of air cavalry, Howze led a military panel, the Howze Board, that issued a landmark 1962 report on expanding the use of helicopters in the Army.

That report called for aircraft, primarily helicopters, to ferry soldiers to the battlefield, bring them supplies, fire on the enemy and evacuate casualties.

Within a few years, gunships and helicopters bearing troops and materiel filled the skies over Vietnam, becoming essential tools of warfare. The Army eventually built an entire division--the 101st Airborne--around helicopters, largely due to Howze.

By the war's end, the Army had a force of 10,000 helicopters.

"The Huey [helicopter] was to our rifleman roughly what the horse was to the cavalryman, close by and ready," Howze once said.

Howze was born Dec. 21, 1908, at West Point. His father, Maj. Gen. Robert Lee Howze, was commandant of cadets. The younger Howze graduated from West Point in 1930 and joined the cavalry, where he honed his polo skills.

In World War II, he commanded the 1st Armored Division in Tunisia and then Italy, earning the Silver Star for service in North Africa.

In 1965, after serving for two years as United Nations commander in South Korea, he retired from the Army and became an executive and consultant for Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth.

Howze is survived by his wife, Mary, and two sons, Lt. Col. William Howze of Harker Heights, Texas, and Guy Howze of Austin, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

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