and delivery system, which led to what is known as the “Davy Crockett” infantry weapon system. The system was designed for use by the U.S. infantry in Europe against Soviet troops during the Cold War.
Safety and control of nuclear weapons were priorities of Howard. “He was a forward-looking person in a very pragmatic sense,” according to Orval Jones, a former executive vice president at Sandia who first worked with Jack in 1973. “Jack saw the need to really aggressively pursue nuclear weapons safety.” To prevent unauthorized detonation of nuclear weapons, he recognized early the need for built-in control of the arming sequence of U.S. nuclear weapons. He participated in the preliminary design of the Permissive Action Link (PAL) system, a coded switch inside a nuclear weapon that blocks the arming signal and requires an order from the President of the United States to pass through the proper channels for activation.
In 1969, Howard was instrumental in establishing an independent nuclear safety assessment group at Sandia. The group oversaw an ongoing safety review of existing nuclear weapons, developed new safety technologies, and developed techniques for evaluating evolving safety concepts.
Perhaps Howard’s most publicly visible achievement was his leadership of the California site of Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore. In 1956, Howard was assigned to inaugurate the new laboratory to provide ordnance engineering support to what is now known as Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Retired Sandia Laboratory Director Tom Hunter recalled, “I would describe Jack as one who laid the foundations not just for our nuclear weapons program but also for [Sandia’s] values of national service and excellence.”
Concurrently with his tenure at Sandia, Howard became a valued advisor in formulating and guiding the implementation of national nuclear policy and served the nation in various capacities. From 1963 to 1966 he served as assistant to the secretary of defense for atomic energy at the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and was the chairman of the Atomic Energy