Annex dedicated to Army Pfc. Clyde R. Houser Jr.
Bob Ford/TIMES NEWS Lester Miller, left, and Clark Ritter place a new sign on the Lehighton Annex building on Third Street, while Jim Walp looks on from the ground. The annex while now also be known as the Pfc. Clyde R. Houser Jr. Building.
Four Lehighton area men died fighting in Vietnam.
The Lehighton Borough Annex has been named after one of them Army Pfc. Clyde R. Houser Jr. Yesterday, a sign was installed at the annex designating it as the Pfc. Clyde R. Houser Jr. Building.
Clark Ritter, who helped champion the cause to have the building renamed, explained why Houser was selected for the posthumous honor.
The borough annex had been the Lehighton High School from 1918 to 1964. The final graduating class from the building was in 1964.
"Speedy was in our class," said Ritter, making reference to Houser. "He graduated in 1964. He was the only one out of our class that was killed in Vietnam."
The other three individuals from the Lehighton area who died in Vietnam were SP4 Leon Delbert Eckhart, Lance Corporal Ronald Steward Henry Christman and SP4 Charles Richard Jones.
Ritter said although the building is named after Houser, display cases in the building eventually will honor all four heroes, as well as Vietnam veterans in general. No timetable has been established for the memorial.
On Monday, during Lehighton's Memorial Day Parade, the line of march will stop at the annex and an honor guard will fire a salute. This will occur after services at the Catholic Cemetery, and en route to the Lehighton Cemetery at approximately 10:15 a.m.
The renaming of the building came due to the efforts of a six-member committee comprised of Ritter, Lester Miller, Glenn Troutman, Jim Walp, Dave Warner and Dennis Yenser.
Ritter explained how everything came to fruition.
He said prior to the group becoming a committee, the members' wives got together once a month for a girls' night out. He said on one of those evening, he and Warner began discussing Vietnam. One thing led to another.
It was stressed by Ritter that the naming of the building and the planned displays are not merely for the four men who died fighting in the war.
"Its not just for them," he clarified. "It's for all Vietnam veterans. We wanted to have something in our little town to member the Vietnam veterans."
He said the American Legion Post - Shoemaker-Haydt Post 314 is named after a World War I and a World War II veteran. One of Lehighton's busiest thoroughfares, Route 209 South, is called Sgt. Stanley Hoffman Boulevard and is named after a Korean War veteran.
Ritter praised the cooperation he received from borough officials in the endeavor.
"They've been so helpful to us," he said. "I'm very pleased at the support we got from them: the mayor (Mayor Donald Rehrig), the council, the borough manager (Nicole Beckett)."
The sign was constructed by Dennis Hawk of Lehighton and installed by borough workers.
Houser said he's obviously happy that everything happened as quickly as it did regarding naming the building after Houser.
"Speedy was a likable guy," he said, recalling fond memories of their school days. "You kind of took to him. We called him Speedy because he could run very fast."
He said of the committee members, "We all wanted the building named after Speedy."
Houser was 21 when he died on June 13, 1967, in Quang Ngai, Vietnam, from multiple fragmentation wounds. He was a member of the 1st Cavalry Division, 8TH Cavalry Regiment, 2ND Battalion, D Company.
On the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C., his name is located at Panel 21E - Line 98.