Lt. Col. John Thomas Richard Howell was born in Des Plaines, Illinois. Although his paternal great-grandparents moved to Polk County from Opp, Alabama in the 1920s, neither John nor his father were born in Florida due to family obligations to serve in the Army during World War II and Vietnam, respectively. John’s father, John E. Howell, was born in Pennsylvania, because his grandfather was in France in 1944 during the invasion. Lt. Col. Howell proudly wears the buttons from his Grandfather’s WWII Army uniform on his tunic.
John’s parents, John and Susan, met at Northwest Airlines in Chicago and were married in 1968 after John’s father returned from Vietnam. Once John T. R. was born in 1971, they remained in the Chicago area for only 6 months and decided to return to their Howell roots in Florida.
As an only child, John grew up in Brandon and attended Kingswood Elementary. He was then bused to Progress Village for sixth grade and Booker T. Washington (near the staging area for the Ybor parades) for seventh grade. He was very athletic, playing All Star baseball at South Brandon Little League and youth football with the Brandon Broncos as a child. He graduated from Bloomingdale Senior High School in 1990, lettering in football, track, and golf. After high school, John went to Troy State University in Troy, Alabama where he walked-on to the football team as a long-snapper and earned a bachelor’s degree. He later obtained his master’s degree in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling from the University of South Florida.
During his time at Troy, he met the love of his life, Cinde, who graduated from high school in Hawaii. John and Cinde will be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary in the upcoming year.
Lt. Col. Howell currently works as an Area Director for the State of Florida, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation where he has helped people with disabilities go to work and enhance their independence since 1996. Like our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, Lt. Col. Howell is proud of his association with the Masons where he was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason last year.
Over the years, Lt. Col. Howell has been involved with Rough Rider historical trips and various committees, most notably serving as the Chairman of the Teddy Bear Committee for eight years. During this time, he led the organization in collecting and delivering thousands of Teddy Bears to children in hospitals, centers for abused women and children, and the family court system. He also began educating recipients, telling the story of how the Teddy Bear got its name and sharing the cartoon, “Drawing the Line in Mississippi”. He is honored to serve as the 43rd president of the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, Rough Riders and sincerely appreciates your attendance and support.