PA instructor, USMC vet Doug Howell directs annual Veterans Day 4 Star 4 Miler
On Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov. 11, the third annual 4 Star 4 Mile Race will take place in Downtown Detroit. The race is directed by Doug Howell, a lecturer in the EACPHS Physician Assistant Studies program and a Vietnam veteran.
After a four-decade career as a practicing Physician Assistant, Howell began teaching at Wayne State's Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in 2014.
“I love giving back to the new generation of medical providers,” he said, “especially those ‘pearls’ that are not found in books and only come from 40 years of experience.”
A Vietnam veteran, Howell says his military service paved the way to his medical career. As a Fleet Marine Force Corpsman in a Special Landing Force battalion of the U.S. Marine Corps, his company faced extensive combat during his tour in 1966-67. He received the Purple Heart for wounds suffered in Vietnam conflict, as well as a Presidential Unit Citation and a Republic of Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation.
Beginning in 2008, Howell, along with several other Marines, returned to Vietnam four times searching for a remote mountain-top battle site on the border of Laos. His book “The Night is Dark and I am Far From Home” chronicles those visits and the profound effect the trips have had on him. Plans for a fifth trip are underway.
With this deep, firsthand understanding of the indelible sacrifice veterans make, Howell conceived and annually directs the 4 Star 4 Mile Race, which starts and finishes at Cass Park in front of the Masonic Temple, along the same route as the Detroit Veterans Day Parade.
“I visualized this race for many years before I went out and actively recruited people to help me start it,” he said. “It is the only race in the country that runs alongside the parade, at the same time, on the same course. It is a very powerful experience for all involved.”
The event includes about 500 runners and 4,000 parade marchers, and is part of Vets Fest, which includes live music, food trucks, beer tent and family activities.
“This year marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice ending World War I and the founding of Veteran's Day,” Howell said. “At 11 a.m. on 11/11, the local churches will all toll their bells in celebration, and the race and the parade will begin their course through downtown Detroit.”
The race benefits both the Wins for Warriors Foundation and the Metropolitan Detroit Veterans Coalition, which puts on the annual Detroit Veterans Day Parade.