Obituary of Kenneth John Houghton

Newspaper: The San Diego Union-Tribune (CA)
Published Date: 30 Mar 2006


Major General (Retired) Major General (Retired) Kenneth J. Houghton passed away on March 27, 2006, at his home in La Jolla, CA. General Houghton was born October 17, 1920, in San Francisco, CA. He attended local public schools in the city, and was active in youth sports. He was the batboy for the San Francisco Seals for two summers, in the dugout with Joe DiMaggio and his brothers. He graduated from Polytechnic High School in 1938, and from the University of San Francisco, where he played both baseball and football, with a B.S. degree in Political Science and Economics in 1942. He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals as a catcher, but opted to join the U.S. Marine Corps. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps on April 15, 1942, and was commissioned a Marine Corps second lieutenant September 26, 1942. He married his beloved wife of 53 years, the former Elizabeth Ann Reed of Berkeley, CA, on March 14, 1943. During World War II, General Houghton saw action at Tarawa, the Marshall Islands and on Saipan. He was promoted to first lieutenant June 22, 1943, and to captain December 31, 1944. During the Korean Conflict, he was Brigade Reconnaissance Detachment Commander, 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, and Reconnaissance Company Commander, 1st Marine Division. It was during this period the he won his first Silver Star Medal and Bronze Star Medal with Combat and gold star in lieu of a second Bronze Star Medal. Wounded in action in October 1950, he was evacuated to a U.S. Naval Hospital where he remained until January 1951. He was promoted to major January 1, 1951. In 1962, he attended the Army War College, Carlisle Barracks PA, and also that year received a M.A. in Political Science from George Washington University, while stationed at Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D.C. There he was awarded the Legion of Merit and promoted to colonel July 1, 1964. He was assigned as Action Officer to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, serving in the latter capacity until February 1967. In February of 1967 General Houghton took command of the 5th Marine Regiment in the Republic of Vietnam. During that period he commanded the 5th Marines, from which he was awarded the Navy Cross, a gold star in lieu of a second Silver Star Medal and two gold stars in lieu of a second and third Purple Heart Medal. He was subsequently assigned as Assistant Chief of Staff Third Marine Amphibious Force until February of 1968, and for this service he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Legion of Merit. Upon return to the United States, General Houghton was assigned as Executive Officer, G-l Division, Headquarters Marine Corps, in April 1968, and promoted to the rank of brigadier general on August 21, 1968. In May 1972 he was assigned as Deputy Commander, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, (Honolulu, HI), and in October 1972, he was assigned as Commanding General, Marine Corps base, Twenty-nine Palms, CA. He was promoted to the rank of major general on April 2, 1973, and assumed command of the First Marine Division (Camp Pendleton, CA) on May 1, 1973, and then Third Marine Division (Okinawa, Japan) on August 23, 1974, including the Third Marine Amphibious Force, Okinawa. He assumed duty as Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, CA., in August 1975, serving in this capacity until his retirement on November 1, 1977. His combat decorations from actions in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, include: the Navy Cross, two Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars, three Purple Hearts, and several commendation and campaign medals during his 35-plus years of service in the Marine Corps. Immediately after retirement General Houghton worked another 22 years with local defense contractors Cubic Corporation and Applied Data Technology, before finally retiring in 1999. Major General Houghton is survived by his four children: Pamela Robles of Honolulu, HI, Penelope Dudek of Solana Beach, CA, Samuel Houghton of San Clemente, CA, and Kenneth Houghton of Kapaa, HI and six grandchildren. Services at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Monday, April 3rd, 11:30 a.m. Please sign the guest book at

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