Alun R. Howells spent much of his teenage years as a goth in dark and gloomy clothes and thick makeup. Neil Coen saw his change. “One day he shows up in khaki pants, a white shirt and tennis shoes, and I said, ‘What’s going on?'” said Coen, a school administrator. “He just said, ‘Yup, I’m over it.'” Howells, 20, of Parlin, Colo., was killed Aug. 13 in a shootout in Baghdad. He was a 2005 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Stewart.
Howells, whose parents, Gwyn and Jaena Howells, are from Great Britain, participated in 4-H when he was younger and loved to fish, camp and hike. “Camping for him was not a special event; it was part of his life,” said Jonathan Houck, who taught Howells for several years. On his MySpace page, Howells wrote of wanting to finish his military service and then enroll in college to get a degree in sports medicine.
He said he wanted to travel, perhaps live in Great Britain for a while, maybe buy a home in Wisconsin and buy a BMW. Coen admits quizzing him to make sure the decision to enlist was sincere. “He gave all the right answers,” Coen said. “This was a path he chose for himself.”
Alun Howells was born into a military family on Jan. 15, 1987, at the British Military Hospital in Rinteln, Germany. His father grew up in Porthmadog, Wales, and his mother grew up in Hays, Kan. In a very short period, Alun moved all over the world and spent time in Germany, Brunei, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. When his father, Gwyn, retired from the military, the family moved to live in Gunnison, Colo.
While in Gunnison, Alun was able to take full advantage of the outdoor experiences that were on offer. He enjoyed fly fishing, climbing, hiking, mountain biking, skiing and snow boarding. He participated in 4-H when he was younger. In his sophomore year, he entered the Gunnison Valley School, which emphasized experiential education. While at the school he blossomed and was thought to be an extraordinary student by the teaching staff. As time progressed, he became a committed student leader and a tremendous advocate for the students who came to the school. Having completed his high school education early in December 2004, he moved to Menomonie where his family had relocated.
Alun began his military career in January 2006 at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and, having completed his training in May 2006, he was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga., where he was welcomed into Echo Company, 1st Battalion, 64th Armored Regiment. He left Fort Stewart for Iraq in May 2007 and was killed in action in Baghdad on Aug. 13, 2007, at the age of 20. He became a SPC posthumously and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the Combat Action Badge.
SPC Alun Howells is going to be greatly missed by family and friends. He touched so many lives in the short time he was with us.
He is survived by his parents, Gwyn and Jaena Howells; two brothers, Dafydd and Paul Howells; and a sister, Sian Howells.
There will be a celebration of Alun’s life at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2007, at the Olson Funeral Home in Menomonie with full military rites. Family and friends may call one hour prior to the service on Sunday at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to a charity of donor’s choice, or to a fund established in Alun’s name at Bremer Bank in Menomonie that will go towards the Center for the Intrepid at the Recovery Center for Injured Soldiers and Their Families at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.
“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; Send Me.” Isaiah 6:8
To express condolences online, please visit obituaries at www.olsonfuneral.com.