By Jess Kelsey
“Tearful” was the only word Ronald Houck of Mustang could use to describe the recent return of his son, Lieutenant Colonel Scott Houck, from Kosovo.
Last Wednesday, more than 130 Oklahoma Army National Guard Soldiers, including Mustang natives, returning from six months to one-year tours in Europe were greeted by loved ones at the Norman Armed Forces Reserve Center. The two units included members of the 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Military Intelligence Company and the Brigade Special Troops Battalion.
Scott Houck spent the past year in Kosovo serving as the United States Military Intelligence Analysis Control Element Chief in support of NATO Operation Joint Guardian where he was one the most senior intelligence advisors in the region. This trip was Scott Houck’s second overseas, including a tour in Afghanistan back in 2003-2004.
“Going there, it’s like leaving society for a year,” said Scott Houck. “Then coming back is very strange, because you’re going to something completely foreign to you then coming back to something that hasn’t changed a bit since the day that you left.”
According to Scott Houck, the mission in Kosovo was to “provide a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement.”
While most of his work was classified, Scott Houck said a general statement of their role there was to “look at different types of information that was coming in, put it all together and try to make sense out of it.”
Scott Houck said he enjoyed his time serving in Kosovo, which he described as a “very beautiful country.”
“The people are amazing. Most of the country is ethnic Albania, and they absolutely love Americans,” said Scott Houck. “Everywhere we would go, we were pretty well greeted as heroes.”
According to Scott Houck, 95 percent of the country is Muslim and the remaining 5 percent are serving Orthodox, which causes a “crossroads of cultures.”
“Kosovo is a place we absolutely need to be in,” said Scott Houck. “It’s been a volatile region for the last 800 years… I think that region is very important. I think we need to be in that region for a long time. There’s a lot happening over there.”
Scott Houck said he was intrigued by the people’s knowledge of their country’s history in Kosovo, meeting several people who could recite Kosovo’s history dating back to 1,000 A.D.
“Their history plays largely in their culture and their beliefs,” said Scott Houck.
Scott Houck’s military history began when he saw “Top Gun,” inspiring him to join the University of Oklahoma’s ROTC program.
“It was a surprise,” said Ronald Houck. “He (Scott) called me up and said, ‘Hey, dad,’ I’ve joined a new program and I can go into the National Guard. It was an honor he would follow my footsteps.”
Ronald Houck, who is a former Captain in the United States Army Reserves, served for eight years from 1972-1980.
“I was in a basic combat training and we trained brand new recruits,” said Ronald Houck.
Keeping up his father’s legacy, Scott Houck graduated with seven other officers from the ROTC program, who all, including himself, went on to serve and remain serving.
Scott Houck currently lives in Norman with his wife and daughter.