History through the lens

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

John Howell is a spry 95 years young. He lives alone, save for his memories of a life well-worn and the company of a portly little pooch who runs around on four reed-thin legs, snapping at passing bumble bees in Howell’s tight, manicured yard.
The American Flag flies high on a pole in front of his Fanning Springs home, and the end of his driveway is punctuated with a bright red sign that reads Marine Corps parking only.
“I thought I had found a home when I went into the Marine Corps.” Howell said of his decision to enlist in the military in 1940.
But it turned out to be much more.
Before his days as a Devil Dog—a term thought to have been coined by frustrated Germans who fought tenacious U.S. Marines in World War 1—Howell had been living in a cheap motel in a grimy, gang-ridden part of St. Louis.
“I got mixed up with a bunch of bad people,” the tall, soft-spoken veteran said.

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