On July 5, 1978, Rick L. Howell stood on the Cardinals’ baseball field in Busch Stadium along with several other young men and swore his allegiance to serve the United State of America as an inductee in the U.S. Navy. Because of their special induction site the group of men were known as the Cardinal Company.
Howell was a resident of Knob Lick and a graduate of Farmington High School, following his two older brothers’ footsteps in entering the Armed Forces. He was (and still is) a Cardinal fan at heart, collecting their baseball cards and attending games when possible, so when the Navy offered Howell the opportunity to be inducted on the field where the Cardinals played, it was a dream come true for the young recruit.
Howell served his country faithfully, but during his service he was diagnosed with cancer, which was serious enough that it warranted an early retirement from the Navy. Howell came home to fight the dreadful disease. His struggle was somewhat successful as he was able to return to the Navy a few years later, this time with the rank of Chief.
However, the cancer returned and this time Howell retired to the state of Florida to battle the deadly disease which he is still doing today.
The Navy prepared a memory box which included a flag to be flown in honor of his service to his country which usually is done for a serviceman upon their full retirement.
Howell had hoped to have his flag flown over Busch Stadium upon his retirement, but with the short notice, the family contacted the Cardinals by phone and was pleasantly surprised to receive a return call within 15 minutes
The Cardinals, known as a team that takes care of its fans, gave instructions on what needed to be done, and on August 4, prior to the Milwaukee Brewers game, the American flag was flown over Gate 6 of the New Busch Stadium in honor of CMTC Rick L. Howell for his dedicated service to his country.
The flag was sent to Howell and his family in Florida where it was received along with a photo and a letter of certification provided by the Cardinals.
To Howell and to his family, the Cardinals’ quick and compassionate attention to their request was just short of a miracle in itself which they are highly grateful, but they are seeking for a much-needed miracle of healing as well.
– Sports bradcaster Joe Bowling contributed to ths article.