CDR Harry "Snake" A Houghton Jr.

March 13, 1933March 22, 2019

CDR Harry A. "Snake" Houghton Jr. USN (Ret) died March 22, 2019 at the age of 86. He was born March 13, 1933 in Lakewood, Ohio, the son of Harry A. Houghton and Dorothy Means Houghton. He graduated from Lakewood High School in 1951 where he was active in varsity sports. He attended Clemson College in South Carolina and then graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Forest Management. He subsequently was awarded a degree in Engineering Science and a Masters Degree in Computer Science from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Harry was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy in 1958, entered flight training and received his Navy "Wings Of Gold" in 1959. While in the Navy he flew a variety of naval aircraft. All of his squadron tours were in fighter aircraft. He accumulated over 3,000 hours in the F-4 Phantom and also flew the F-8 Crusader and F-4D Skyray. His shore duty billets were highlighted by a tour at Commander Naval Air Forces Pacific (COMNAVAIRPAC) as the Fighter Class Desk Officer and a tour on NAS North Island, California as Executive Officer of the Naval Air Rework Facility with over 6,000 employees. Near the end of his naval career he was able to fly the F-14 Tomcat several times. He participated in combat operations in Vietnam for which he received numerous citations. During carrier flight operations he accumulated over 840 carrier arrested landings. After retiring from the Navy, he worked for Cubic Corporation on the TACTS/ACMI fighter training system. He was Range Manager for Cubic at their Italy, Thailand, and British North Sea facilities and was then promoted to Program Manager for all International Range facilities. After Cubic Corporation, Harry worked for the Mantech Corporation, a large military training company, as Executive Director of their San Diego office. Later he was president and CEO of a corporation involved in a franchise operation in southern California. He also worked, for a period of time, as a Training Systems Specialist for Northrup/Grumann Corporation in Los Angeles helping to develop advanced training systems for U.S. Navy and Air Force fighter aircraft. After finally retiring in 1994, Harry's love of aviation led him to the San Diego Air and Space Museum where he was a volunteer docent and training specialist until his death. Harry was at his best while giving museum tours to young children from the various San Diego county schools. There is no doubt that his interest and enthusiasm was helpful in encouraging some young minds into a career in aviation. He participated in all aspects of the museum. In addition to his docent and instructor duties, he served as the Docent Committee Chairman, the Volunteer Coordinator and, for several years, represented the volunteers on the museum Board of Directors. Harry leaves behind his beloved and lovely wife of 46 years, Lydia G. Houghton, of Alpine, CA. Lydia was his soul mate, his partner, his travel mate and his best friend during their many years of married bliss. He was always quick to say that the luckiest day of his life was when he met Lydia. His children are: a son Harry A. Houghton III of Charleston, SC, a daughter Elizabeth Houghton Bird of Swannanoa, N.C., a daughter Alice Julia Houghton of Gainesville, GA, a son Enrique Denosta of San Francisco, CA, and a son Richardson S. Houghton of Elizabeth City, NC. Harry was also loved and known as “Pops” by his seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

In Harry’s honor and to further benefit the children of San Diego County, memorial contributions may be made to the Education Fund, San Diego Air and Space Museum, 2001 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101. A graveside service will be held at the Miramar National Cemetery, 5795 Nobel Drive, San Diego, on April 11th at 11 am. The military service will be followed by a “Celebration of Life” reception in the San Diego Air & Space Museum Pavilion of Flight.


  • Committal Service Thursday, April 11, 2019

CDR Harry "Snake" A Houghton Jr.

have a memory or condolence to add?

Kim Mahaffey

April 15, 2019

My Mom, Marty Fogle was a volunteer at the Air & Space Museum where she met Snake. She shared stories about volunteering with Snake and had great respect for him. She always enjoyed her visits to Snake and Lydia's house. I know she'd want me to pass along her love and great memories of Snake and to send her thoughts and prayers to the family.

Kim Mahaffey

John & Melissa Bolthouse

April 12, 2019

Melissa and I are so sad to hear of Snake's passing. We were both admirers of his when we were at the Air & Space Museum with him. Melissa has warm memories of Snake's kindness and personal advocacy of her efforts, and I always appreciated how dedicated he was to sharing his passion for aviation, education, young people, mentorship, and community volunteerism. God bless you, Lydia, and your entire family. We will cherish Snake always. - John & Melissa Bolthouse