Robert Houghtaling: Grand Marshal, Humble Man
Father of longtime EG drug counselor Bob Houghtaling, Robert served with the Marines in Korea.
Robert Houghtaling was 17 years old in 1949 when he signed up with the Naval Reserve. Two years later, the Korean War began and Houghtaling decided to enlist in the Marines. His brother had fought in World War II. For Houghtaling, serving in the military in a time of trouble was just what you did.
Houghtaling, father of East Greenwich drug counselor Bob Houghtaling, is this year's Grand Marshal for the Veterans Day Parade. It's an honor that took him by surprise.
"I've been in lots of parades," said Houghtaling earlier this week, but never as Grand Marshal. "It was quite an honor. Like I say, I don’t know exactly what to say. I was shocked. I didn’t anticipate it. I never sought anything like that."
Houghtaling isn't a shy man, but he's not one to glorify his actions.
"I was very fortunate. Most of my friends were either shot or killed," he said. "I just was very, very lucky. Outside of a couple of scratches here and there …"
Those "scratches" were actually schrapnel wounds that he never had taken care of because they seemed so insignificant compared to solidiers who lost limbs.
"It’s insignificant," he said of his wounds. "I never bothered with it. I never had anything done."
Houghtaling grew up in Yonkers, but has lived at the same Warwick address - with his wife of 58 years, Dorothy - for 50 years. He worked in sales and played softball into his 50s, then switched to Kenpo Karate (he's a third degree black belt).
"He’s my hero," said Bob Houghtaling of his dad. "He just viewed that it was his job to serve the country that he loved."
The parade steps off at 10 a.m. this morning from Academy Field. You can hear Robert Houghtaling speak (he said he'd keep it short!) at Town Hall - the end of the parade.
Do you know a veteran here in East Greenwich? Add his or her name to the list started in Five Things today.