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December 2, 2020
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Following the military ways

By: Cassandra May Albaugh
November 13, 2020

Driving along Rohnert Park Expressway, you notice banners on light poles honoring our daughters and sons currently serving in the Armed Forces. As a veteran myself, I love that we recognize this segment of our community and their service. However, the banners only identify a name and service. We don’t get to know much more about them; or, about the other military families in Sonoma County who have children serving. I’d like to go further. Thus, this series of articles about our military families.

I liked to take credit for this concept, but I can’t. Staff Sargent Christopher King reached out to the paper wondering if we’d be interested in this concept. King, a native of Visalia, CA, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2007. His military specialty is as an Aviation Ordnance Technician. He lives in Santa Rosa with his wife and three children. He is currently stationed at the Marine Corps Recruiting Sub-station in Santa Rosa. He is working with me to identify potential families to highlight for this series. To nominate a family for consideration submit them to Christopher.King@marines.usmc.mil or Cassandra@thecommunityvoice.com. 

Our first family to highlight is Dave Houts and his son Travis. Dave, a former resident of Rohnert Park’s M Section, retired after 25 years from the Cotati Police Department. He and his wife now live in Petaluma and he works as an Instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Public Safety Center. He’s the proud father of 20-year-old Travis, a 2018 graduate of Casa Grande High School in Petaluma, currently serving in the United States Marine Corps.

Travis talked about growing up in Petaluma and Rohnert Park. He remembers getting picked up from school in his Dad’s police car, playing in the neighborhood and riding dirt bikes. He said, “I loved going to the veteran’s parade in Petaluma because I got to see a lot of cool military helicopters and planes go by as well as tanks.” His most vivid memory was “when I would get to go shooting at the range with my Dad.” He wants to be a successful Marine and to continue working out and staying physically fit. For him, he thinks the Marines is a good career for those that like the military and for people who like routine. He says, “there are also lots of benefits if that’s what you are looking for, such as medical and education.”

It isn’t always as easy as some folks think, to join the military. Travis had a weight problem he had to overcome. He told his dad he didn’t like the way he looked; that he had to change his diet. He started going to the gym for workouts, walking on the treadmill and lifting weights. He dropped 50 pounds before even going to the recruiting center in January of 2020. He enlisted in the delayed entry program then, but still needed to lose more weight before he could ship out. 

In February he joined King and the other recruiters in doing the Marine Corps workout program as he waited for his date. When the virus hit, his gym closed so he started running with his dad who is an avid runner. Every few days they’d do runs of 5-6 miles or more. In April he went to the San Jose Military Entrance Processing Command (MEPS) in Mountain View, CA. This command processes applicants for military service. They put them through a battery of tests and examinations to ensure they meet the standards required to serve. They include vision, hearing, various medical examinations and other background checks. They also administer the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). Then he went home to wait for his call up.

In May, he returned to MEPS but in a reserve status. That meant he was on standby. If someone couldn’t ship, he would take their place. He didn’t ship out then. On June 1, he did depart for recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) in San Diego where he started his quarantine before commencing boot camp. Graduating on September 11, he was recognized as the top shooter of his company. The company consisted of six platoons with 35-45 recruits each. Out of the 271 company personnel, Travis was number one, helping his platoon also be number one. 

After that he went to Camp Pendleton in San Diego County to complete his military combat training. He is currently at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri while waiting for his military specialty training to commence at the end of November. Upon graduation, PFC Houts will be designated in the 5811 military occupational specialty (MOS) of Military Police. Along the way, Travis said he “learned that for things you don’t want to do (like losing the weight), starting them is always  the hardest part.” Thank you for your service, Travis. Good luck on your career. Semper Fi!