View Full Version : Rowan native honored for saving fellow Marines' lives

02-23-06, 10:27 AM
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Rowan native honored for saving fellow Marines' lives
By Rose Post

Salisbury Post

Bob and Beth Houck of Millbridge will never forget the sight of eight Marines holding their son's casket as he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 8, 2004.

Now they'll have more among the countless memories they have of their son, Marine Lance Cpl. David Houck, and the letters he wrote from the middle of the war, his concern about killing two people and how he wondered at how heavily that weighed on his mind when he was trained to do it.

But it did weigh even though he was busy defending Mosul Airport and the battle in Fallujah.

Now the details of those memories come in a letter from his mother, Beth, and Gunny Sgt. David Brown, who handled the media during her son's memorial service at Peninsula Baptist Church and also at Arlington.

"It looks," Beth Houck writes, like her David "will finally be recognized for his service in saving the lives of two Marines on Thanksgiving Day, 2004, the day before he, himself gave up his life."

The presentation will be at the Charlotte Marine Corps Reserve Center on Saturday, March 4, probably at 11 a.m.

In his letter to the Houck parents, Gunny Sgt. David Brown wrote that he had "received a package in the mail this weekend from the Commanding General of 1st Marine Division. Inside is an award for David.

"I guess the reason it has taken so long to filter down is because of all the levels of administration stuff it had to go through," said Gunny Sgt. Brown.

"The award is a Navy Commendation Medal with a Combat 'V' device for valor. Both Marines and Navy personnel are eligible to receive the award. The narrative outlines David's actions while under fire.

"I need to get this to you," Gunny Sgt. Brown wrote the Houcks, "but I want to make sure it is done the right way. It should be presented officially."

And there was more.

Beth Houck also received a letter from their good friend, Karen Frederickson, "who is doing a superb job of connecting all us 13 families who lost sons in the battle for Fallujah. A native North Carolinian has recently published a book depicting this awesome battle."

The title of the book is "Fallujah, With Honor, First Battalion, Eighth Marine's Role in Operation Phantom Fury" by Gary Livingston, and Karen got a copy and read it.

"It chronicles the 1st Battalion 8th Marine Regiment's part in the Fight for Fallujah, Iraq, also known as Operation Phantom Fury, in November and December 2004.

"When I got the book in my hands," she wrote the Houcks, "I immediately sought out those chapters that focus on Bravo Company. I will read the entire book and the chapters about Alpha, Charlie and Weapons Company soon but for now I am riveted to the saga of Bravo Company," which was David Houck's company .

"There are mistakes — spelling of names, proper rank, and other errors not caught when the book was edited — but no matter," Karen wrote, "it is still riveting.

"It tells a story that we know all too well but in more detail than we may have known before. On every page in those chapters about Bravo Company I recognize every name.

"I picture their faces. I remember them recounting each of these battles, and the tears run down my face. It is so personal."

David's mother has not yet seen the book but she is sure her son's story is in it.

"On Thanksgiving Day in a heavy fire fight, David and his friend, Dominic Esquibel, went in to rescue Tom Hodges and Mike Rodriguez, and they tried to go back to rescue two more, but an explosion stopped them. It broke David's heart.

"And for that he will receive the Navy commendation medal."

The book also includes the stories of each of the 13 Bravo Co. Marines, including David Houck, who lost their lives in the fight for Fallujah.

"This is a very difficult book to read," Karen said in her letter to Beth Houck, "especially if you are personally vested in the hearts and souls of these Marines. It brings the horrors of war right into your gut. Some of you would rather not go there, would rather not know about the realities of war, would prefer that it did not intrude on your daily life."

But Karen felt strongly that this battle needed to be documented and the deeds of these Marines, by name, need to be remembered.

Another of the Marines whose injuries are well documented in the book is Sgt. Jacob Knospler.

He was so severely wounded that President Bush himself presented him with his Purple Heart at Bethesda Naval Hospital, and he was interview by Newsweek Magazine this week.

Anyone interested in the book may order copies from Caisson Press, P. O. Box 505, North Topsail Beach, N.C. 28460 or send an email to caissonpress@yahoo.com.

Contact Rose Post at 704-797-4251 or rpost@salisburypost.com.