Metro-East News

Col. Howard demoted after sexual misconduct plea deal, sees retirement pay cut

Col. John Howard is being demoted to major after he took a plea deal in a sexual misconduct case.

Howard, the former 375th Air Mobility Wing commander at Scott Air Force Base, is still on active duty, but is expected to retire shortly, said Major Ryan DeCamp, a spokesman for the 18th Air Force.

An exact date has yet to be determined, DeCamp said.

The demotion means his annual retirement pay is reduced by $20,000 a year, DeCamp said.

Howard sought a relationship with “a very junior airman” in his command, a formal reprimand stated. He made “disgusting remarks” about his genitals to her and regularly attempted to flirt with her, the reprimand stated.

He was originally charged with two counts of cruelty and maltreatment, two counts of sexual assault, one count of conduct unbecoming an officer, and one count of fraternization in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Howard was commander of the 375th Air Mobility Wing until December 2017, when the commander of the 18th Air Force replaced him, saying he lost confidence in Howard’s ability to lead the wing.

Joseph Bustos is the state affairs and politics reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, where he strives to hold elected officials accountable and provide context to decisions they make. He has won multiple awards from the Illinois Press Association for coverage of sales tax referenda.