Howard was a true Patriot. My husband was a '52 Charlie pilot & a close Buddy at Reese AFB. He promoted the romance of Howie & Gilberta. We'll miss him with all our hearts. (Rita Alvarado, FL)
To: Col. Pierson's family:
It is rare that a man has such an impact on people he met in EVERY phase of his life. I was only a 23 yr old pilot flying in his squadron. 40 years later I can truly say that no man has ever served as a better role model in my life. He was a man's man, a soldier's soldier and a pilot's pilot. As recently as two years ago he wrote a letter to my 90 year old mother reflecting on his experiences with me. It is a testimonial to the content of the man that we never see in today's leaders. I've met many Generals and many political "leaders." None are half the man of Howie Pierson.
Howard was the most amazing man I have ever met . My "Spiritual" Father. Wise ,kind,firm ,loving... No words can describe.. The world has lost a wonderful man but God has welcomed home an angel .. I love you Dad and I will not forget your teachings.
Howie was a character that can't be replaced. All the tributes apply, Warrior, Leader, Friend, Aviator and on. The same demeanor, tempered with age, is why he continued to be so endeared by many. Good man that will be missed by many. He was my student squadron commander for a portion of the time when I went through pilot training, Reese, 68-69. May he rest in peace.
A Message to Gilberta
My love, don't stand over my body and weep,
For I am not here, I do not sleep.
The angels transported me in one big leap,
I am now at peace, and well, at Jesus' feet.
“Bless you Howard,” Jesus said,
“I was with you on that sick bed,
And I heard every prayer that was said,
But it was time for you to be with Me instead.”
Gilberta thanks for your loving care
When I needed help you was always there.
With your help the pain I could bear
You are an angel on earth I declare.
I am sorry I was so sick at the end,
But you loved me and nursed me again and again.
Without you, where would I have been?
You are truly a beautiful person without, and within.
My lovely Gilberta is now a “Lonesome Dove”
But God will comfort you from above.
With His protection and everlasting love,
You too is His special beloved.
It's so great to see my old friends, and kin.
Who will never be old again.
They embraced me, and welcomed me in.
I am not dead;
I am more alive than I have ever been.
Jesus had a record of all I had prayed for and fed.
He provided for my sin, and theirs, when He bled.
I am grateful I obeyed what He had written and said;
Now I am alive forever more; I am not dead.
Yes, I am with Jesus in the sky;
I tell you the truth, I do not lie.
My departure was in His plan,
And we will soon be together again.
Don't stand at my grave and cry, I am not there, I did not die.
Messages from Charlie Yates
August 16, 1973
The war is finally over- the last bomb was dropped at 10:44. The last two days were really pretty neat. The 14th I had the Ream go – fly a mission, land at Ream, refuel and go home. I had a navigator in the back seat – his first time into Ream. It gave me one last chance to do some “flathatting.” The beaches down there are just beautiful. We'd get right down on the deck along the beach and pull up to go over the trees…..Only the old heads were scheduled to fly the last day. Every backseat was filled. Woody and I flew together- me in the front, him in the back. Before we took off we briefed with Col Pierson, Powers, and another guy for a four-ship, five-flight fly by – the last FAC combat mission. We were the last ones out of the war zone….. The party that night was okay- we only got kicked out of the club 3 times.
August 19, 1973
One of these days the true story of the FAC is going to come out. If it wasn't for us none of those A-7's or F-4's could have dropped the ‘last bomb.” Just being in on the 3 last days this year really made me glad I didn't take an F-4. I probably would never have had a commander like I have now. There's not guy in the squadron that wouldn't follow Col. Howard (Howie) Pierson, “Blue Suiter,” anywhere. He's going to the FAC reunion so you will get to meet him.
October 29, 2010
Howie, you're my hero, my mentor, my friend, and a brother in Christ. It was indeed an honor to serve with you in combat. Not only did you personify the spirit of Douglas MacArthur….”Yours is the profession of arms; the will to win, the sure knowledge that in a way, there is no substitute for victory.”, but you inspired your lieutenants to follow your lead.
With gratitude and love,
Charlie Yates, Nail 50 & B
“Blessed is the Lord, my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle….” – Psalm 144:1
1973, combat in Cambodia! We flew hard and took our losses. You were a great commander, mentor, friend, and Bud. You were our leader and we were the young men of summer, strong, proud, dedicated, brave, and beautiful.
Set up the next rendezvous and we will be there. I look forward to once again, being on your wing.
The world has lost the presence of a great man
I feel honored to have served with this warrior on a B-52G crew during my EWO days and he was the CP. When I hear the words, "FLY FIGHT WIN" I think of him. I, along with my dad and brothers had some great golf times with him during those years as well. I was also blessed to have met his Pop. He will be missed by many.
We had the honor of being in Howard's speech class at Tarrant County College. In his own words he did not teach, he “awakened” students to learning. His class was not a speech class; it was a life class in which we gave speeches. We were awakened about respect for others; we were awakened to “never suppress a kind and generous impulse”. We were awakened about God, family, and country. We were awakened about integrity, duty, and bravery. One favorite quote of Howard's was… “I was shot at by experts, take your best shot”. We came to know and love Pop and marvel at Howard's shameless promotion of his father. Howard awakened us on how to honor thy father.
When college was over we have been blessed to maintain a relationship with Howard, Pop, and Gilberta, and to count them as our friends. Howard Pierson blessed this world and we look forward to the day when we will hear his voice again.
If only to have heard the trumpets in heaven…what an incredible honor to have been blessed by your presence in my life. Thank you for your service to our country, for having been able to consider you a friend and for your amazing love of the Lord.
Gilberta – My love and condolences. May God continue to be with and watch over you.
We love and miss Howard and hold the rich blessing of a powerful example of how to reach out to people in relationships (...all those notes and pictures!). It was an honor to have him and Pop at our wedding years ago. I thank Howard for his service to our great country and our even greater Lord, Jesus. - Todd Slocum, son of a B-47 pilot who flew with Howard
Thank you, Howie, for great instruction early in my Vietnam tour with the 309th Air Commando Squadron, Tan Son Nhut AFB, Saigon, 1966-67. You are a true Air Commando! David L. Hatch, Col, USAF(Ret)
A true hero in every sense of the word...family, friends, community, nation, world. "Greater love than this has no man, but that he lay down his life for another." Howie laid down his life for all. Rest in peace with our Lord Jesus.
I first met Howard in 1957 at Biggs AFB, El Paso Texas,- we were SAC pilots flying B-47's. My last time with Howard and Gilberta was in late 2012 at the farewell ceremony for the USS Iowa, on which he served at the Battle of Okinawa in 1945 as a young 18 year old sailor. An unparalleled military career which was beautifully honored by Col Dale Hill's eulogy at Howard's Memorial Service.
It has been one of the great blessings of my life to have known this Man of God.
"WELL DONE,GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT. Mathew 25:21"
My dear Gilberta:
What a special blessing it is for me to know you and your beautiful family. Witnessing the grace of God unfold in your life and having the privilege know first hand many of the countless joys you and Howard have shared is a sacred trust I will treasure forever.
Gilberta, I will always remember our Australia and New Zealand trip. I love you both and pray that the Lord will give you peace during this very difficult time. God bless you my dear friend.
We've lost one of the last Air Force true warriors. He was a great leader. Talked to him just after he retired- still all Air Force.
We have lost a great and wonderful friend. As a member of USAF cadet class 52Charlie he was our Chaplin and presented us great memorial and inspirational
Comments at our reunions. He will be truly missed, The Lord with Pops will be waiting for him. WHAT a GREAT REUNION.
TED &. VICKY DANIEL. ---- 52C
One more Roll
Capt. Jerry Coffee POW Hanoi
We toast our hearty comrades who have fallen from the sky,
and were gently caught by Gods own hands to be with him on high.
To dwell among the soaring clouds they have known so well before,
from victory roll to tail chase at heavens very door.
And as we fly among them there, we're sure to hear their plea:
Take care, my friend, watch your six, and do one more roll for me.
Gilberta - Howard has been a true blessing and inspiration to our family as he reached out and touched all of our lives. His memory will forever remain in our hearts. God Bless You.
Barry, Stella and Samuel Trudeau
Col Pierson was a friend of man and God. When speaking in Christian groups he would say, "Jesus Flight Check in." His flight is now checked in in Heaven. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."
Captain Ron Knott
Such a grand person the both of us found you to be. We will never forget you and your Dad coming to church, yours and his smiles. May the Lord comfort your family with the knowledge that you are gone on to a higher calling. Blessings and many prayers to your wife and family. Al and Clinnetta Moore
Born in Bloomfield NJ to Hilda and William H. Pierson our father was a colorful character whose personal strengths were numerous. His devotion to his career and the USAF made him a notable officer who is remembered by many he served with.
His children appreciate the exceptional dedication and compassionate care his wife Gilberta gave our father during his lengthy illness. May peace, good health and fond memories keep her far into the future.
With Thanks from
Hilda and Howard Adams,
Steve and Paige Pierson,
Heidi and Larry Simmons, also thank you from his grandchildren and great grand children.
Dear Gilberta, what wonderful expressions of love and admiration for Howie are contained in his final "logbook!" His Nail admirers knew him as Nail 01; I knew him as " Cobra Hair" when we transitioned Thais into the A-37B, at Takhli. He was a great ambassador as well as earning the many other accolades in this guest book. What an inspiring book could be written! Wishing you love, strength and peace.
Larry and Phyllis Harwood
Much love to you! So happy you are now with our Lord and Saviour! We miss you and love you and know we will be together again one day!
God Bless You Howie and Gilberta. CINC Nail was the best, most inspirational leader I have ever known. He will live on in those of us who were so privileged to know him and learn from him. As sad as his passing is, our memories of him will always bring smiles.
Pat McCullough, Nail 47
Here are some more photos of the Cinc
Oil the gate hinges Howie there will be many of us coming through soon.
In the bonds Howie, Nail to Nail with unmatched respect
Pete Lappin Nail 69
Fly safe Howie and hold the gates open for the rejoin and another "Hu Chi, Cu Chi Coup" briefing.
Howie lived life to its fullest, and touched so many people in the process. I was one of them, and I am honored to call him friend. Remembering him will not be difficult - there was only one Howie!
We're all on your wing, Lead. May you rest in the peace that passes all understanding.
We'll miss you Howie. When you meet up with all the Nails behind the pearly gates, just remember, Nails are SH.
Howie was a hero to us all. God's speed in his flight west.
Jack, Nail 53, 67-68
Nail 01 – You have profoundly touched the lives of many - proud to have served with you, Commander and Bud.
I always addressed Howie whenever we met as “Sir” or “Colonel Pierson” out of respect for both his many years of service and as a Command Officer. I can no longer count the times that I was told “My name is, Howie. Please call me Howie”. No doubt my response was “Yes Sir, Howie”. Over the years I finally succumbed to his many rebukes and gave into his request. No doubt Howie had a serious side and took his leadership role very serious. However, he was most willing to show his softer demeanor when the opportunity presented itself; This trait is only found in those who truly care about their fellow man. Howie was such a person.
We have lost a true patriot, warrior and good friend. Now we must rely on time to get us through this period of mourning. However, time will never erase our memory.
Slow Hand Salute to a gallant Warrior.
Crew Chief Bob Green/C3B
First met Howie at Craig AFB in 67. He's been my hero ever since. It was so gratifying to see him honored at the Alabama homecoming game in 2011. RIP Howie, God blessed us with your friendship.
Howard will always be my hero, and a true man of God, with a memory that amazed me. With many of the dates he remembered there was a significant event that took place. I will never forget his training story with the new co-pilot in the back, while bombing the enemy and that co-pilot's response to a pre-saved Howard, "God loves them too..." I salute you Sir! You will be missed indeed!
Gilberta--Howie was a warrior, patriot and a servant of God. Most of all he was my friend and I am a better person for having known him. Thank you for being there for Howie when he needed someone most. We will truly miss him. Sincerely, Lendy and Sue Edwards, Rustic 20/Nail21, Shalimar, FL
Howie,have safe flight WEST.
From my flight school days at Reese to my time at Hurlburt and many ACA and FAC reunions my thoughts are filled with memories of "Commando Clean" A Warrior, Patriot, Mentor and a humble servant of God...we will miss him dearly but he will never be forgotten.
"Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, ..... put out my hand and touched the face of God." High Flight ....Farewell my friend.
You were the leader of a great group of men. We honor you and we honor them. Fly Safe Howie.
Howie was a saintly warrior.
I will always feel honored to have meet him. I saluted him at the dedication of the OV-10 in Texas and salute him now on his final flight!
Jerry & Roselyn Dufresne
All of us grieve with you over Howie's loss, but in his memory we celebrate someone who made this world a brighter and better place. Besides being a fine gentleman, Howie was the best combat leader I've ever met!!!
Gilberta--Howie was a true patriot who set a wonderful example for all who followed him. Thank you for being there for him. Sincerely, Doug and Carol Aitken, Rustic 16/Class 68G Reese AFB
Howie was a friend to us all. We shall always remember him and his efforts to do good for us all. We are better for having known Howie in our lives.
Great leader, great teacher. My sincere condolences to all his family.
Bill McAdams, Fort Worth, TX
Rustic 21/Pilot Tng Class68G
Farewell to a great man
Jim Freebairn Rash 32
Now flying with God, Howie will be missed by all. Gilberta - we morn with you but take hope that we will be together again.
Covey 250 / Rustic 55
Gilberta, We are grateful to have met you and the CINC during the Aussie FAC reunion. Howie was a great commander and I am proud to have had him as a friend. Our condolences to you and the family. Dick & Liz Green
Please receive my sincere condolences.
Howard Pierson was a true hero and I have been forever changed by knowing such a great man. He reached out to help our son, Nick, on his journey to become an Air Force officer, and became a great friend to us all. I picture you now, happy and free, with your dear friend Joe and all those who loved you and left before you. Thank you for your service to our country, and for teaching us all what the true meaning of friendship is. God bless you Howard.---Lisa, Jim, Nick, and Ally Langevin Novato, CA
My sincere condolences to the family. Howie will be sorely missed. God rest his soul.
Jack Otis, Rustic India/Sundog Echo
Nail 01, you are missed.
Rustic 20, Nail 57
No need to "Check Six" any longer, my friend. God is now truly your co-pilot
God Bless Howie and his family. We at the FAC Museum will miss his comaderie and send best wishes to his family. A great patriot and human being.
Satwatdee Cinc Nail. You possessed two rare commodities in the modern military...charisma and leadership, from the front no less.
Your legacy was and still is a group of young military aviators who were the better for having been led by you. Leslie always wondered why I placed you above all others....then we had a no notice hospitality check by you and Gilberta. As you drove off Leslie turned to me and simply said, "Now I understand".
check 6....we are not far behind
Rustic 15 and Nail 27
Thank you for your service to this great country...we have lost a hero. I'm glad to have known you, and even more glad to know that my son was able to know you. We will miss you.
HO-MO-TO Howie, and may the angels lead you into paradise.
Howie Pierson -- a great leader and patriot, and a true friend. But, first and foremost, a powerful Christian. We'll miss you, Bud. Save us a place on God's flying schedule!
In my life I have had the privilage and honor to serve with many warriors. Howie stood at the head of the line.
Nail 01 will live in our memories as more than our squadron commander. Howie was a man's man, the pilot's pilot and lived a life to which we all aspire. Here's hoping we fly on his wing again someday. God bless Howie, his family and friends.
Have a safe flight home!!!
Nita and Commando Steen