Mary E. Rogers
UNCLE CORKY: THE PT BOATER
Glenn Ray “Corky” Houck was born March 3, 1920, in Orbisonia, Pa. He was the son of Ralph B. and Laura M. (Swonger) Houck. He was united in marriage to the former Genevieve Shoop, November 21, 1941, in Hagarstown, Maryland. He passed away April 1, 2008. He was co-owner of Houcks Inc., Hardware store in Orbisonia.
He is survived by his wife and daughters, Glenda Ray Doyle Rothermel, and Sharon E. Querry, five grand sons and two step-grand daughters 11 great grand children; two brothers and a sister, N. Ray Houck, Harry E. Houck, and Lucinda Mellott. He was preceded in death by two brothers and two sisters, Ralph, William, Ruth Davidson, and Alice Mae Senft.
PT Boat 162: Painting ©Copyright by Robert VoorheesUncle Corky enlisted in the US Navy, January 1942 and was discharged October 1945. While serving his country he was stationed, mostly, in Asiatic South Pacific. While serving with the PT fleet, he was a radio man. While fighting in a battle with the Japanese, he was machine gunned in both legs. Though badly injured he kept manning his position on top until a fellow Seaman, Robert Haskett, came to his side. Robert took off Corky’s belt and used it as a tourniquet on one of his legs. He then took off his own belt and used it as a tourniquet on Corky’s other leg. He put his life on the line to save a fellow PT Boater and carried Corky to the engine room. As soon as he laid Corky down, he jumped up and started back up the ladder. Corky got up again and again and tried to go back up the ladder. Robert grabbed him and told him if he tried it one more time he would personally knock him out. This story was told personally by Mr. Haskett at a PT boat reunion in 1994.
While serving in the Navy, Corky was on PT boat #’s 155, 162, and just as the war was ending he served on PT boat #164 in the Philippines. As the war ended they were ordered to burn all their fleet of PT boats.
Corky served in the same fleet as John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who later became President of the United States. The night President Kennedy’s boat, PT 109, was hit by a Japanese ship, Corky’s PT 155 volunteered to go on a rescue mission. They were told that this would be a suicide rescue, because all the Japanese ships were concentrated in that area. In spite of the risk, they continued on trying to fulfill their mission.
Glenn R. “Corky” Houck was the last living member of his PT Squadron. He received a Good Conduct Medal, American Area Asiatic-Pacific 3 star, and a Purple Heart.
After leaving the Navy, he went to school for electronics.
Uncle Corky was quite a character. In his later years he had trouble getting around and even walking from room to room, but the grandchildren hold many memories in their heart.
In his earlier years his knees weren’t quite so bad and every Sunday he took his grandchildren out to play football. Everybody wanted their Pap on their team because he could run like a deer.
He used to line his grandchildren up in the back alley and race them to the stop sign. His grandchildren said, “He took no mercy on us, he left us in the dust every time.”
He took his grandchildren fishing and spent the entire time untangling fishing lines and fixing reels. He usually took them fishing at the Aughwick creek. He would always say, get your rods, we are gone FEESHING! The grandchildren would jump in the back of the pick-up truck and away they would go, with their Pap driving like a madman, jerking and tossing them all over the bed of the truck. Then he loaded them all in the back of his red pick-up truck and took them to the ice cream stand.
He took his grandchildren hunting and taught them how to hunt. One time at camp he saw some deer running through the field. He grabbed his gun and ran to the porch. He asked the grandchildren, “Do you see any buck?” The twin grandchildren, Brad and Brett, hollered out, “The second one is a buck, Pap, the second one is a……” BOOM!! The deer fell down in the middle of the weeds, then got back up and ran to the middle of the road and dropped over dead. (His grandchildren said, “Maybe they weren’t the most law abiding citizens.”) Corky shot across the road only to find his deer had no horns. The twins were excited and told their Pap the wrong thing. He ordered them to get it off the road and into the truck, FAST!
He climbed to the top of the mountain to hunt up to 3-4 years ago. He would set up a target in the backyard and give his grandchildren a BB gun and they would start firing. Corky, would stand there and yell out, “FARR” The shed still holds the scares of his grand children’s marksmanship.
Corky had an old pocket knife. He used it to clean both fingernails and toenails. He would also cut birch limbs for his grandchildren to chew on, while they were out hiking. He also used it to cut up apples and feed them to his grandchildren. They said they never thought twice about eating those apples even though most likely they were chewing on their Paps fingernail and toenail dirt.
Corky retired in 1972, and bought a place in Florida. He always wanted to buy a Cadillac, but thought people would think he was spending his money too freely. He found a Cadillac parked on the beach in Venice, Florida, and he really liked it. So he insisted that his daughter, Sharon, take his picture next to it. Sharon obliged, fearful that the owner would show up and be mad.
July 2007. Uncle Corky had a stroke. During the recovery process he was required speech therapy. Cassie, his great granddaughter, would sit on the back porch with flash cards and drill him until he had enough. This went on day after day. He also needed to exercise his motor skills. Great grandson, Joshua would get a beach ball and he and Pap would play catch. Sometimes they practiced baskets with a nerf ball, with Corky laughing the whole time.
The grand kids loved having breakfast with their Pap. When they all went out to eat, Corky thought napkins and sugar packets were fair game, He would embarrass everyone by filling his pockets
Right before Corky quit driving, he decided to take his wife, Aunt Gen for a ride in the country. His first mistake was giving his wife the garage door opener, as he was ready to back out of the garage. She kindly opened the door and it rose perfectly. Corky put the car in reverse and started to back out of the garage as Aunt Gen decided to hit the button again and close the garage door. He slammed into the door and practically demolished it. His grandson’s wife, Marsha, had to come and put the door back together to close it for the night. Corky just sit on a lawn chair watching the garage and saying, “That woman, she makes me so nervous!” Aunt Gen just smiled and acknowledged the blame, because she didn’t think she did it. They both suffered from dementia.
Uncle Corky was also the last man, in Huntingdon Co., to shoot a mountain lion in Orbisonia. In his confused state, he believed the neighbor’s cat to be a mountain lion and got his gun and shot it right in town.
Corky’s senses were lacking in his old age. He sat at the television watching baseball and football with the grand kids. All that could be heard was the TV blaring and the squeal of his hearing aids. Aunt Gen would holler in from the kitchen and tell him to go do something. He would just smile at the grand kids and turn his hearing aid down. Sit there with a big smile as if he had heard nothing.
Corky’s grandson, Brad, (One of the twins) preached his funeral. On December 16, 2007, Brad sit down with his Pap. Uncle Corky was willing to lay down his life for the freedom of his country in WW2. Brad shared with him the comparison of what he was willing to do for his country and what Jesus was willing to do for his eternity.
Glenn is now running as he did in the days of his youth. His senses are lacking no more. He was Dad, Pap, Grand-pap, Brother, and to his closest friends he was Corky. To us, his nieces and nephews who loved him…he was simply, Uncle Corky. He was kind to us and we knew he loved us.
Thanks for the memories, Uncle Corky… we will see you again on the other side.
©Copyright April 21, 2008 by Mary E. Rogers
Author’s Note: The above is a collection of reminiscences presented, submitted, and given by Uncle Corky’s children and grandchildren as they said their goodbye to their Father and Grandfather.