LT John Joseph Houston, USN

Speaking as a company mate and dear friend, Joe’s loss is profoundly difficult. From the moment Plebe Summer started on July 1, 1998, everyone in our company loved Joe. As we sweated profusely up on 5-3, attempting in vain to instantaneously absorb the names and hometowns of 30 plus classmates hurriedly scribbled in the back of our Reef Notes, we breathed a sigh of relief when we got to Joe’s name: John J. Houston, from Houston, TX. To this day, we can all recall: “Joe Houston-Houston, TX.”

But as we came to find out, Joe was much more than an easily memorized Plebe rate; Joe was the embodiment of the Naval Academy mission. He was disciplined, methodical, quick to praise others, selfless in his time with friends, a servant who participated in humanitarian causes outside the Academy, and above all else, wholly devoted to the Navy and his country. The hallmarks of Joe that we in 2nd Company came to know were: a pristine uniform, flawless physical conditioning, a humble manner, and perhaps a late study light that always seemed to be burning. Joe was an exemplary midshipman, scholar and patriot who yearned to be a leader.

Joe always charted his own course. Our company officer once affectionately called Joe “one of his rebels.” That comment wasn’t intended as a smear, but rather as an acknowledgment of Joe’s free spirit, a free spirit that propelled him to critically examine issues, to spend his off hours on countless adventures ranging from learning to scuba dive to qualifying as a free-fall parachutist. He was as comfortable lending a hand in training plebes on Saturday morning as he was sitting down with a classmate to talk about his faith. Ultimately, Joe knew exactly who he was and wasted no time at the Academy or in his career in pursuing his goals. His unassuming nature was juxtaposed with a relentless self-confidence that put others at ease and engendered trust in those who served with him.

After commissioning, Joe pursued one of his lifelong dreams to become a helicopter pilot, and completed two deployments in support of combat operations. At the time of his death, Joe could not have been more ecstatic about the direction of his life. He was excited to give back to his community as a flight instructor, and as a helicopter pilot, thrilled with the challenge of getting behind the stick of an airplane again. Lastly, Joe spoke to me in recent months with great fondness about the opportunity to serve near his family in his beloved home state of Texas and the blessing of new love in the arms of his fiancée, Jenn.

Joe leaves here on Earth a beloved fiancée, Jennifer, a beautiful son, Asher, age 5, two incredible parents, John and Glyndell, a brother Jimmy and a sister-in-law, Kendra. He was a man who had supreme faith in God, and we believe is resting in His presence now.

Please continue to pray for the Miller and Houston families as they deal with these devastating losses.