When Ralph Houk died last week I and just about every other person who wrote something about him made mention of the fact that he was a decorated veteran of World War II. I had no idea just how amazing his war record was, however, having only read a few things here or there making reference to it.
There’s a story in the New York Times today examining his exploits, and man alive, Houk was something else. From his citation when he won the Silver Star:
“Deliberately exposing himself to the withering fire, although the fire
was so intense that his clothes were torn by enemy machine-gun bullets,
he calmly moved from one position to another, directing his men. As
enemy tanks continued to advance, realizing that his guns were
ineffective against them, he secured a tank destroyer from an adjacent
unit, and personally directing its fire, he forced the enemy to withdraw
from the area. Through his gallant leadership, he was directly
responsible for repelling the enemy attack.”
And that’s just some of it. Read the whole thing. It’s not your average war story.
I’ve always been mildly annoyed when athletes use the “going into battle” metaphors, but I can’t imagine what true war heroes like Ralph Houk thought when they heard it.