Pfeifer, Howard

Howard Pfeifer was born September 22, 1923 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He grew up there against the backdrop of the Great Depression, so as a teenger he worked many jobs, delivering newspapers, pumping gas, and so on.  When the war came, a cousin of Howard’s told him about the merchant marine; Howard liked what he heard, and he joined up.  His first journey saw him cross the Atlatic and Indian oceans en route to Iran, where the ship was unloaded and the goods dispatched overland to the USSR.  Later journeys saw him take part in the Murmansk convoys, braving the weather, U-Boats, and Luftwaffe – and onshore the Soviet authorities.  Later in the war, Howard participated in the D-Day armada.  He was one of the ships known as the gooseberries, ships that were scuttled to form the breakwater off Omaha Beach and which would be crucial to the supply efforts  that pushed the Allies on to eventual victory.  Howard ended the war doing officer training, but when VE Day came, he returned to his prewar life and headed home to family and work.  He and the other merchant mariners did not get their recognition right away, but we are happy to note that it did come in the end.  We interviewed Howard Pfeifer over zoom in the pandemic winter of 2021, and we are grateful to the Veterans’ Breakfast Club for facilitating this process.