Elected in 1979
“For contributions to nuclear ordnance engineering, particularly in systems concepts, command, control, intelligence, and safety.”
BY JULIA M. PHILLIPS
W. J. “JACK” HOWARD, a former executive vice president at Sandia National Laboratories who was a valued national advisor on U.S. nuclear policy, passed away September 13, 2010, at the age of 88.
Born in Kimball, Nebraska, on August 25, 1922, Howard came to New Mexico with his family when he was a junior in high school. He graduated from what is now New Mexico State University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and served in World War II. While serving at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, after a mountain airplane crash that killed the pilot, he hiked for six days along a stream with a shattered kneecap, until he found help. During his military service he earned the rank of captain and the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart.
In 1946, Howard joined the Z Division of Los Alamos National Laboratory, which became Sandia National Laboratories in 1949.
During his career at Sandia National Laboratories, Howard racked up a notable list of achievements in weapons work. He directed the ordnance engineering design and development of the first Polaris missile warhead, which led to Sandia receiving a Certificate of Merit from the U.S. Navy. In addition, he was the motivating force behind the concept of the nuclear warhead