Spotlight Resident – Houston Tuel

Meet Carlton Senior Living‘s spotlight resident, Houston Tuel – Houston was born August 30, 1922 on a farm in the Red River area of Southern Oklahoma, on the border with Texas. His father, Leslie Frank Tuel, was an oilfield roughneck. His mother, Maudie Leah Pirtle, the daughter of a Methodist minister, raised Houston and his younger brother, Rex. In 1927, his father bought a farm in Oklahoma, growing cotton, feed grains and corn. Two years later, an oil boom in Oklahoma City led his family to move there, though the job didn’t last long, and the family moved to Burkburnett, Texas, a small town on the northern border, and the inspiration for the 1940 Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable movie titled Boomtown. Burkburnett became the family hometown and Houston graduated from high school there in 1939. After graduating high school, Houston took a summer job in Cameron, Louisiana, working on a shrimp dock. He had planned to attend Texas A&M to study journalism, but they unfortunately didn’t offer that degree at the time. With no real plans, Houston boarded a bus to Baton Rouge, where he visited Louisiana State University. Upon being accepted to the university, he was asked by the admissions office which branch of the ROTC he wanted to join. Without any knowledge of the differences, he chose the artillery branch. This would prove a pivotal moment in his life. After graduating LSU, Houston went to Fort Knox in Kentucky to continue his training, becoming an artillery liaison pilot. At this time, he met his wonderful partner, Dottie, whom he would soon marry. Becoming a Second Lieutenant in the Army and a tank gunnery instructor, he was sent to Kansas in 1943 for six months of flying training. He was then deployed to Europe with the 95th Division and flew 37 combat missions. During his tour there, his wife had their first son back home in Texas. After WWII ended, Houston and his family (now with three sons) were stationed in Germany for nearly three years. Returning to the States, it was time to “separate” from the Army, and Houston assumed that to be the end of his military career. However, in a wild turn of events, he was asked to visit the Pentagon, and with the combination of his education and flying experience, was selected to join the Air Force, and enlist in their flying school. Unbelieving of how good his luck with assignments became over the next few years, he says, “I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven!” Houston was deployed to Korea, where he flew 125 combat missions. He was on the “ground floor” of flying the new fleet of jets, including the F-86 Sabre and the F-100 Super Sabre. In 1956, Houston was assigned by the Pentagon to Sacramento, where he eventually completed his military career, retiring as a Colonel. Houston’s three sons and daughter are all currently living in Northern California. Houston calls Carlton Senior Living Davis his home where he enjoys living close to his family. Carlton Senior Living Blog Contributor, Eric DemuthWritten by Eric Demuth View additional Resident Spotlight articles.