Some months ago, representatives of the family of Sgt. Charles Gregory Huston sought my assistance in having a portion of state Route 66 near Houston High School named in his honor. Sgt. Huston is the only service member from Shelby County who was listed as missing in action in Vietnam.
For those who may not know Sgt. Huston’s story, I want to briefly share it with you. On March 28, 1968, Sgt. Huston was part of an 11-member team that was dropped into the rugged, jungle-covered mountains of eastern Laos to conduct a reconnaissance patrol.
The area was of particular interest to United States forces because it was the location of the headquarters of North Vietnamese Army General Vo Bam’s 559th Transportation Group, the Ho Chi Minh Trail’s control center and the largest military storage facility outside of North Vietnam. The area was heavily defended.
As the patrol moved through the dense jungle, they came under heavy fire. When it became apparent they were outnumbered and outgunned, the team requested immediate extraction by helicopter. The team then moved toward the designated evacuation point.
The helicopter was able to extract the eight South Vietnamese soldiers who were part of the patrol. As the eighth soldier climbed the ladder, the helicopter began taking heavy enemy fire. At that point, Sergeant Alan Boyer began climbing the ladder. As the helicopter began to depart, the ladder caught in the jungle foliage and broke, and Sergeant Boyer fell to the ground.
When last seen by the helicopter crew, US Army Intelligence Specialist SFC George R. Brown, Sgt. Boyer and Sgt. Huston were still alive and successfully defending their position. Three days later, a search and rescue team returned to the site to search for the three Americans.
Although the ground search continued for six hours, no evidence of the three Americans was found. Search efforts were terminated. Boyer, Brown and Huston were listed as Missing in Action.
Since 1953 and well before Sgt. Huston’s service, the Ohio General Assembly has designated portions of the state highway system as a memorial highway by passing legislation which is then signed into law by the governor. Through Ohio Revised Code Chapters 5533 and 5534, the General Assembly has established a number of memorial highways.
Fortunately, the request that I filed is now on the desk of State Rep. Susan Manchester. On April 9, Rep. Manchester introduced House Bill 191, which if passed, will designate a portion of state Route 66 near Houston High School as the Sgt. Charles Gregory Huston Memorial Highway.
Although the bill has not yet been assigned to a committee, it is expected to be assigned to the Transportation & Public Safety Committee. Fortuitously, Rep. Manchester is a member of that committee.
I would ask that readers consider doing something old-fashioned. I would ask that you spend a few minutes and write a letter of support to Rep. Manchester (The Honorable Susan Manchester, State Representative, Ohio House of Representatives, 84th Ohio House District, Vern Riffe State Office Tower, 77 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215).
Last year was the 50th anniversary that Sergeant Huston and his colleagues were designated as Missing in Action. While Sergeant Huston’s family had hoped to have the highway designation as part of that painful anniversary, that did not happen. Hopefully this year, it can be a part of Shelby County’s Bicentennial Celebration — perhaps as soon as the Fourth of July.
Shelby County Commissioners Julie Ehemann, Bob Guillozet and Tony Bornhorst are in full support of House Bill 191. So are Shelby County Veterans Services Executive Director Chris North, American Legion Post Commander Jim Moorman and Veterans of Foreign Wars Vice-Commander Tom Kinninger.
For those who would like to follow the progress of the bill online as it makes its way through the General Assembly, I’ve attached the web address, https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA133-HB-191 . Know in advance that I appreciate your help. I know that the Huston Family does as well.
The writer is the mayor of Sidney.