A military life makes a big “Flash”

Photo above: Paying tribute to a longtime Army Veteran, “Flash.”

By Molly Ingram

Meet Howard Born, known as “Flash” to his friends and cohorts. And Flash seems to be the best single word to describe him. Soon to be 76, Flash has spent almost his entire career in the military or in military related private industry. Born into a military family that seemed split between the army and the navy with an occasional flyer thrown in for good measure, Flash could salute and sing “Anchors Aweigh” — his Father’s college fight song — long before he could do most other things.

Flash was born in the Naval Hospital on the US Navy Submarine Base, in Coco Solo, Canal Zone, Panama where his Dad was stationed. Anne, his lovely wife, reminds him that he was shipped stateside on a “banana boat” to settle at a Florida base where his Father had been transferred. As a youngster, Flash remembers “getting a ride to school in 1st grade in the Navy mail truck” which was going into town to pick up the days delivery of packages etc. So more than once, Flash seemed to be involved with alternative methods of delivery at the hands of the military in his formative years.

Flash attended Penn State and there was a member of the army ROTC and a Marine reservist at the same time. He accepted a regular Army commission after graduation and began a stellar and challenging career in the Army for the next 26 years. Flash began as an Artillery Officer but moved to flight school becoming both a fixed wing and rotary wing (helicopter) aviator. After two tours in Vietnam, Flash served his country in various capacities in both the US and overseas. His last Army position was at the Pentagon as the Director for US Army International Development Programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Development. Phew. It’s a good thing he wrote that down for me because there is no way I would have gotten it right otherwise.

When his 1st wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Flash made the decision to retire as a Colonel from the Army and move to the private sector. Spending time working at General Dynamics on business development in the area of “unmanned aerial vehicle systems,” Flash kept his hand in the military world. I think “unmanned aerial vehicle systems” is what we now call drones and for me it harkened back to his early days of alternative delivery methods, like Banana Boats and the mail truck. And as I sit here writing this, I’m wondering if Flash is currently working in secret with Amazon on their new drone delivery system? Wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

Flash is the proud Dad of three great boys — Allen 48, John 46, and Robert 41 — all successful in their own right. His eldest son is an investment banker in Pennsylvania, the next is an Armored Calvary Commander based in Nevada and the youngest one is an entrepreneur in alternative energy sources in Hawaii. And then there is one very important granddaughter.

What struck me the most when talking with Flash was that he is a living, breathing, example of what I expect to see when someone says that “there is nothing more important than service to one’s country.” It is very much in his blood and his beliefs are strong and intransigent. Living in Beaufort, we are lucky to see this type of dedication and commitment around us with the new Marines graduating on Parris Island, fighter pilots based at MCAS, and so many military retirees who have decided to stay in our little part of paradise.

On November 14th, we owe all of these men and women more than just a heartfelt “thank you.” We owe them for all that we hold dear and that we value — our freedoms, the safety of our family and loved ones, and our opportunity for prosperity. Howard Born is a huge credit to his family, his friends (of which I now include myself), his community, the soldiers he has served proudly with, and to the United States of America. Flash, you make me damn proud to be an American!

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