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First Name: Herbert

Last Name: Houck

Birthplace: Corona, MN, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Norman

Date of Birth: 02 April 1915

Date of Death: 24 February 2002

Rank or Rate: Captain

Years Served:
Herbert Norman Houck

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Herbert Norman Houck
Captain, U.S. Navy

Herbert Norman Houck was born on 2 April 1915 in Corona, Carlton County, MN, the oldest son, with three brothers and a sister. His father, Signe R. Houck, was a farmer. He grew up in a small farming community of Corona and attended the local high school. After attending the University of Minnesota for three years, he dropped out and joined the U.S. Navy in 1936, becoming a fighter pilot and being commissioned an Ensign.

During World War II, he served on several aircraft carriers, and in 1944-45, he was serving on the USS Yorktown. As a Lieutenant Commander and fighter pilot flying FM-6 Hellcat fighters, he led the first mass strike by carrier-based aircraft on Tokyo on 16 February 1945 (not counting the famous 1942 Doolittle raid), and by the end of the war had earned three Navy Cross Medals (the Navy Cross is the second highest award for valor, second to the Medal of Honor), shooting down six Japanese planes.

In April 1945, the Yamato, a 72,000 ton battleship, fitted with 410 mm side armor deemed impenetrable, with nine 18 inch (46 cm) guns that could send a 3,200 lb shell over 20 miles, was given just enough fuel for a one-way trip. On 6 April 1945, Yamato, the light cruiser Yahagi and 8 escorting destroyers, were sent on a suicide mission to destroy the American invasion fleet at Okinawa. The Yamato was discovered the next day, as soon as it left the Inland Sea, and was very quickly engaged by American forces; 386 aircraft from four US aircraft carriers were launched against her. When Houck led his 43 planes from the carrier USS Yorktown to the reported site of the Yamato, he found the ship listing about 20 degrees after an American submarine had pumped five torpedoes into her and other American aircraft had bombed the ship. Houck ordered his planes to attack, putting another five torpedoes into the ship and a minute later the ship's aft magazines blew up and the ship rolled over and sank, killing 2,475 of its crew. Only 269 Japanese sailors survived the sinking, to be picked up by their escorting destroyers. The cruiser was also sunk.

After the war, Houck remained in the Navy, and was promoted to Captain in 1956. He served as Commander of the Aircraft Carrier USS Shangri-La in 1960-61, and retired to Florida in 1968.


He was married to Jeannette Houck, and had three children: Robert, Mary, and Susan.


Captain Herbert Norman Houck died on 24 February 2002 in Cape Coral, FL. He was cremated and his ashes given to his family.

Honoree ID: 2651   Created by: MHOH




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