Hanau-based lieutenant colonel leaving lots of shoes to fill
June 27, 2005
HANAU, Germany — Depending on whom you ask, he is either a soft-spoken but firm police chief, emotional prayer leader or extreme sports enthusiast.
To those who know him best, Lt. Col. Howard Malone is all three.
For three years, Malone has served as the top law enforcement officer for the 104th Support Group in Hanau, Germany, while carving out time each Sunday to lead a praise band at a local base church. And, when his wife permits, he races his motorcycle at local dirt tracks.
But it’s no contest where the passions in his life stand in relation to one another, Malone said.
“Singing in the church and giving praise to God is absolutely the passion of my life,” Malone said. “[My wife] Melanie comes in second, and my dirt bike comes in third.”
Malone has led the church band at the Fliegerhorst Chapel since January 2002, singing while his wife plays piano with a band comprised of back-up singers, guitarists, a drummer and a two-piece brass section. The band plays both traditional psalms and more modern tunes.
Between songs Malone offers short, personal sermons that reflect his quiet dedication to his beliefs.
“If you feel like God is a million miles away, you’ve got to praise Him,” Malone told a church crowd on a recent Sunday.
Perhaps the man who knows Malone the best outside of his family is the area support group’s commander, Col. Herman Williams, who served with Malone in South Korea for two years before reuniting with him in Hanau.
The link between the two men goes beyond the military police work they’ve done in the past.
“We’re both into praising God,” Williams said.
Williams plays bass in the church band.
“It’s a prerequisite,” Williams said, joking about the concentration of base leadership in the church band.
Malone attributes his passions in his life — religion, singing and motorcycle racing — to his father, a former Baptist minister and Army engineer who once owed a motorcycle shop.
Malone started racing motorcycles when he was 8 years old, along with his two brothers, and began competing in races when he was 13. At 6 feet 3 inches and 220 pounds, Malone said he is bigger than most riders. He dabbled in road bike racing while in Atlanta in the early 1990s, but his wife convinced him to stick to the softer dirt.
Malone also started singing young, with his father encouraging him to do so when he was 5. By high school, he was the lead singer and bass player in a band, called The Continentals.
“I’ve kind of been a rocker from the beginning,” Malone said.
He continued singing through college and his Army career. In 1985, he was named U.S. Army Europe’s top male vocalist and went on the road with the All-Army Soldier Show. The trip paid off in other ways, as Malone reconnected with a college flame, Melanie, who he eventually married.
Along the way, the Malones merged their faith with their music and now stick almost entirely to religious songs. They have passed that passion on to their three daughters, who all sing, Malone said.
But Malone gave his last performance at the Fliegerhorst Chapel this month. He is leaving Hanau for Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where he will serve as the executive officer of the 14th Military Police Brigade.
On a recent Sunday, Malone explained to the church crowd that he had no trouble getting his orders for an upcoming move.
“It was absolutely straight from God,” he said.