Leslie “Les” Houston can trace his family tree back to the legendary General Sam Houston.
Houston grew up with printers ink in his blood veins. His grandfather owned the Reliance Press and his uncle owned the Beauregard Daily News and the Guardian.

Houston was born in Hayward, California in the late forties. In the early sixties, his family moved back to DeRidder because his grandfather’s health was starting to fail.

Houston enrolled at DeRidder High School and soon became lead trumpet player in Grady Kyle’s band.  

Most of his free time was spent working with his grandfather at the Reliance Press.

He was also a member of Explore Post 30 under the leadership of Dr. Charles Jones and Louisiana State Trooper Hank Larkin.

When Houston graduated from DeRidder High in 1965 he was offered a scholarship in music from McNeese by the director of bands Norman Smith. Smith had been the band director at DeRidder High School and was also a well-known trumpet player.

Houston declined the scholarship and continued to work as a printer with his grandfather at the Reliance Press.

The war in Vietnam and the Cold War in Europe required a lot of manpower. Thousands of young men were being drafted to build up the US Army.
Houston had already registered for the draft and knew it would not be very long before he received a personal note from President Lyndon Johnson inviting him to join the Army.

Instead of being drafted, Houston decided to enlist in the US Navy. After he passed a series of test and a complete physical, Houston was informed that he had scored high enough to be sent to Electronic School.

Before Houston could report to Electronic School, he would first have to go through basic training at the Naval Training Center San Diego (NTC San Diego).

For Houston, going back to California for basic training was like a vacation. He already knew how to march from his days in the Deridder High School Band.

Often his drill instructor would allow him to lay up in his bunk and sleep until four or five o’clock in the morning. Afterward, they would all go for a morning jog.

Seaman Houston enjoyed breathing the soft salty sea air as it blew in from the beautiful Pacific Ocean. It reminded him of his boyhood days growing up in the San Francisco’s Bay Area.

One of the best things at “boot camp” was the delicious breakfast buffet and all of it was free.

After a fun-filled few weeks of relaxing in the California sun, Seaman Houston graduated from basic training.
He was sent to Norfolk Naval Base which is the largest naval base in the world.

Its 14 piers occupy over four miles of waterfront area and take up seven miles of total space.

Also known as Naval Station Norfolk, it is located on the Sewell's Point peninsula in an area of southeastern Virginia that is commonly referred to as the “Hampton Roads.”

The base supports the entire United States Atlantic Fleet and houses the greatest concentration of Navy forces of any U.S. base.

It is home to 75 ships and 134 aircraft that perform an average of 275 flights a day. NS Norfolk also controls the arrivals, departures and movement of more than 3000 ships a year
Upon arrival at Norfolk, Seaman Houston was re-tested and instead of attending electronics school, he was sent to the Navy’s Communication School.

After graduation, Houston received orders to report overseas to the beautiful island paradise know as Guam in the middle of the blue Pacific Ocean.

Naval Base Guam is part of Joint Region Marianas, a larger military installation that also includes Andersen Air Force Base.

Although it is under American jurisdiction and its citizens are referred to as USA citizens, the island is located closer to Asia than to America.

One of the things Houston enjoyed most was that the island was relatively small and although its inhabitants were American, the island had a mixture of cultures and races that attracted tourist from all over the world.

After two years spent in paradise, Houston was then sent to the USS Oklahoma and the USS Providence for a relaxing sea cruise around the Western and Northern part of the Pacific Ocean.

Finally, the Navy decided that Houston’s skills as a communication specialist were needed more on the all gun cruiser USS St. Paul.

With four years of service in Uncle Sams Navy, it was time for Houston’s enlistment to end. He was sent back to California and given an honorable discharge.
Once again Houston was a civilian and returned back to his home in Deridder.

For the next quarter of a century, Houston was the owner and operator of the Reliance Press.

Nowadays this Navy veteran is semi-retired Rather than just sit at home and watch tv, Houston still works part-time as a census taker.

If you see Les Houston or any US Military Veteran, they would surely appreciate a handshake and acknowledgment of the sacrifice and the commitment veterans have made in the lofty endeavor of securing American liberty. They are solely responsible for having protected our fortunate state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior or political views and that is a priceless act of service.