KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Family members of Capt. Howard Rudolph Cody received Gold Star Family ID cards here, and toured Cody Hall Sept. 2, 2020.
Cody Hall was named in honor of Capt. Howard Rudolph Cody, a senior pilot who was killed in action in South Vietnam. The building hosts training for the 334th Training Squadron, providing critical command and control capabilities to the Air Force mission.
“‘Nothing is going to happen to me,’ were his very last words he told me,” said Myrna Cody, Capt. Howard Cody’s wife.
Capt. Howard Cody was flying a B-26 Invader in support of ground operations against the Communist Viet Cong near Ca Mau, approximately 160 miles southwest of Saigon, Vietnam, when he was hit by ground fire. He continued to attack, forcing the Viet Cong to reveal their gun positions to other Air Force aircraft in the target area. His aircraft sustained damage that led to him losing control and crashing. He was considered missing in action Nov. 24, 1963, later pronounced killed in action Dec. 17, 1963.
“They came to the conclusion that no one could have lived through the crash, especially after the plane exploded when it hit and he was in the cockpit under six to eight feet of water,” said Myrna Cody. “I don’t think you ever completely give up hope. I was waiting until they found him to have a memorial service here, but we never had one.”
Capt. Howard Cody’s remains have not yet been discovered.
“He got shot down, but he took a lot with him,” said Howard Cody, Capt. Howard Cody’s son. “I have a child’s memory of him, but I do remember some things. He was in the now, fearless, and I think he’d try anything.”
At the time Capt. Howard Cody was killed, Howard Cody was 8 years old, his sister Rhonda Cody was 7 years old and his youngest sister Karen Cody was 4 years old.
“The neighbors kids and our friends were trotting up behind the car saying ‘Your father is lost, your father is lost,’ and we didn’t get it,” said Howard Cody. “I said to Rhonda, ‘What does it mean he’s lost? If you were in a strange country, you’d get lost too.’”
Howard, Rhonda and Karen Cody found out their father was missing while riding home from Sunday school with their mother, who had been told earlier in the day.
“We had spent so much time with mom, I couldn’t tell you when I realized something was missing,” said Rhonda Cody. “My favorite memory is the dune buggy we had. We’d leave the house in it and daddy would pull off to the side of the road and let air out of the tires to drive better into the sand. He would soar over those dunes and we’d fly up out of our seats. I think he drove as fast as he flew. It was a lot of fun.”
During his career, Capt. Howard Cody had flown the C-54 Skymaster at Brookley, Alabama, and Keflavik Airport, Iceland, the C-123 Provider and C-54 Skymaster at Otis AFB, Massachusetts and the B-26 Invader with the Air Commandos out of Eglin AFB, Florida.
Capt. Howard Cody was awarded two purple hearts, the Air Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Air Force Cross, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal throughout his career, some posthumously.