Moultrie Observer

Local News

November 6, 2013

Former POW to speak at veterans breakfast

MOULTRIE — The Rev. James Houseal, a veteran of both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army and a former prisoner of war in Korea, will be the speaker at the Nov. 9 breakfast for veterans.

The breakfast, sponsored by the Veterans Activities Committee, will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the Charlie A. Gray Junior High School cafeteria.

It is one of several events planned to honor veterans between now and Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

Houseal was born in Birmingham, Ala., and graduated from Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, Tenn., in 1949. He joined the U.S. Army in 1950 and went to Fort Jackson, S.C., for infantry basic training and then on to Fort Sill, Okla.

In late 1952, he was sent to the Republic of Korea, where he joined an artillery unit around “the reservoir.”

“And it didn’t have any water, but plenty of snow and ice,” he remembers.

Houseal served as a forward observer in support of the 7th Infantry Regiment around Pork Chop Hill. He says the hill was overrun and the U.S. troops had to win it back 16 times, often in hand-to-hand combat.

On the 17th time, however, Houseal and his first sergeant were captured by the Chinese and North Koreans. He escaped four days later.

He rotated back to the states in 1953 and later that year was honorably discharged.

Back in Alabama, he went to Auburn University in 1954-1955 and transferred to Birmingham Southern, which he attended from 1955-1956.

In June 1956, Houseal joined the U.S. Navy and served on four destroyers until 1970. He served in Vietnam in 1966-1967 and was aboard a destroyer off the coast of Vietnam in 1968-1969.

He served at sea nearly 14 1/2 years before going to the Naval Reserve Center in Columbus, Ga., in late 1970. He served there until he retired in 1975 as a chief boatswain’s mate.

Houseal worked at TRW in Columbus for 8 1/2 years and says the Lord called him to preach in 1984. He has been preaching nearly 30 years.

Houseal is currently the pastor at Tyson Memorial United Methodist Church in Moultrie.

He and wife Mary live in Moultrie and have been married 53 years.

“Of all the places I’ve been, there is nothing like coming into port and seeing the American flag waving in the breeze and seeing your wife waiting on the pier,” he says.

Other events planned in honor of veterans include:

• A pancake supper for veterans and their families 5-7 p.m. today, Nov. 7, at the VFW post on Fifth Avenue in Moultrie.

• A celebration in downtown Norman Park 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9. A 5K run starts at 8 a.m., and a street dance rounds out the day from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Barbecue plates will be sold for $8 each, but veterans and their spouses can get theirs for free if they call City Hall ahead of time, (229) 769-3611.

• A “Thank You” Event all day Nov. 9 at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture in Tifton. Daytime hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Evening events include the movie “The Incredibles” at 5:15 p.m., the First United Methodist Church Bluegrass Band at 7 p.m. and fireworks at 8 p.m.

• A Veterans Day sing to be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at Magnolia Baptist Church. By His Grace will perform.

• National Roll Call, to be observed at Valdosta State University beginning at 8 a.m. Nov. 11.

• A wreath-laying ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Nov. 11 at the Lewis Hill Amphitheatre on the Courthouse Square.

• Wendy’s Hamburgers in Moultrie will have veterans reading “America’s White Table,” a book explaining The White Table, which is a salute to missing servicemen. A white table has been set up at the restaurant, and readings will take place at 6:15, 6:45, 7:15 and 7:45 p.m. on Nov. 11. Children’s meals will be a special price during that time to encourage the community to come out and hear the story, a Wendy’s official said.


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