HOUSTON — With military precision, Saturday morning’s dedication ceremony for the SFC Charles Gregory Huston Memorial Highway began promptly at 10 a.m. Huston was on a patrol in Laos on March 28, 1968, when the unit of which he was part came under attack. He is the only Shelby Countian listed as Missing in Action.
Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst, who served as master of ceremonies for the event, introduced SFC Huston’s living brothers and sisters. Some had traveled great distances to attend.
William, the oldest of the Huston children, drove across country from Oregon. SFC Huston’s sister, Cora Hodson, was attending from nearby Eaton, his sister, Roberta Mahan traveled to Houston from Arizona, his sister Patricia Frost, made the trip from Washington, D.C., his brother Robert lives at Indian Lake, and his youngest brother John lives in rural Sidney. John was given credit by several speakers as the “driving force” behind the ceremony.
After Barhorst made brief introductory remarks, the Rev. Jarred Kohn, pastor of the Church of the Holy Angels, offered the invocation. During the invocation, he thanked veterans for their willingness to serve, and the Huston family for their sacrifice.
Surrounded by veterans from Sidney American Legion Post 217, Fort Loramie American Legion Post 355, Anna American Legion Heiland Post 446, Jackson Center Scherer Post 493, Russia Catholic War Veterans Post 661, Sidney Disabled American Veterans Chapter 48, and Sidney Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4329, the Sidney Veterans Honor Guard posted the colors. Almost immediately, the Houston High School Band played the Star-Spangled Banner.
Shelby County Commissioner Tony Bornhorst welcomed those in attendance. Bornhorst stood in for Shelby County Commission President Bob Guillozet, who was attending his sister’s funeral. Bornhorst too, expressed appreciation for the sacrifice veterans make while serving their country, as well as the sacrifice service members families make.
In his remarks, Ohio 12th District State Sen. Matthew Huffman recalled words that his brother had told him some years ago.
“Soldiers die two times,” Huffman said. “They die once on the battlefield and die a second time when people forget they lived. Events like this help us remember the tremendous sacrifice that Sgt. First Class Charles Gregory Huston made for his country. The signs along the highway will help future generations remember his sacrifice.”
Hardin-Houston School District Superintendent Ryan Maier recalled that SFC Huston was a tremendous athlete, “one of the finest baseball catchers of his era and earning three varsity letters in track.” He also thanked Ohio House 84th District State Rep. Susan Manchester for her work in sponsoring the legislation that led to the renaming of the highway in front of Houston High School the SFC Charles Gregory Huston Memorial Highway.
“This is also a great opportunity for our students to hear first-hand a detailed account of what Greg encountered and to be able to truly understand for whom this black POW flag has been flying these many years,” Maier said referencing the flag flying adjacent to the baseball field on which Huston played ball while a student at Houston High School.
Manchester noted the legislation to “honor the life and legacy of Sergeant Huston” was some of the first she had introduced following her election in 2018. She then recounted her husband’s recent brain surgery, and how, while still hospitalized, he expressed his appreciation for the tremendous sacrifice of those who have kept our country free, allowing him the opportunity to receive the quality care that might not have otherwise been possible.
Ohio Department of Transportation Division 7 Deputy Director Randy Chevalley noted that he rarely is invited to such ceremonies, and considered the opportunity to attend to be a tremendous privilege. “ODOT really played a very small part in making this happen,” Chevalley said. He presented Manchester with 15 small signs for her to present to members of the Huston family.
As the program neared its end, SFC Huston’s nephew and namesake, Gregory John Huston, thanked those who made the day possible. Huston, the son of John and Kristy Huston, was born more than two decades after his uncle was declared Missing in Action. After graduating from college, Huston himself joined the Army, and was part of a mission that was sent to Southeast Asia to repatriate the remains of three soldiers who themselves were Missing in Action.
It was at that point in the ceremony that Manchester, Chevalley, SFC Huston’s nephew Rodney Huston and Rodney’s son Jackson went to the sign alongside state Route 66 and unveiled the sign to sustained applause.
As the program neared its end, Houston Congregational Christian Church Pastor Kris Geise offered the benediction. She prayed for healing for the country and for the Huston family.
The program concluded with Barhorst thanking Ohio State Highway Patrol Piqua Post Commander Lt. Joe Gebhart and his Troopers, who have assisted with traffic control on state Route 66, Shelby County Veterans Services Director Chris North for his technical assistance, veteran Jim Moorman, who worked with the veterans groups to solicit letters of support for the legislation that eventually passed the General Assembly, but who suffered a broken leg earlier in the week and was unable to attend, American Sign Language Interpreter Charity Byer for her services, and for the many individuals who had sent letters of support to their state legislators.
Barhorst also thanked the veterans organizations who sent representatives to the ceremonies.
“This is the first event I have ever attended at which all veterans organizations in Shelby County have been officially represented,” Barhorst said. “Thank you not only for sending letters of support for the renaming effort but for being here today and especially – thank you for your service to our country.”
The program concluded with the Houston High School Band playing America the Beautiful, the Veterans Honor Guard firing a 21-gun salute, and the playing of Taps.
As those in attendance drifted away, family members remained. Huffman presented a resolution signed by Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof as well as Huffman to John Huston. Manchester then presented the miniature highway signs to Huston, who in turn, presented them to family and friends. And, there were lots of photos.
The stretch of state Route 66 renamed in honor of SFC Huston extends from Houston Road to Roeth Road. The legislation renaming the route was introduced by Manchester in 2019 and was part of Ohio House Bill 276, which Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law earlier this year.