SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Navy SEAL Kevin Houston’s family in San Jose has been left heartbroken by news that he was killed along with 37 others when his helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan Saturday.
Houston, 36, lived in San Jose until he was 9 years old and still visited family there frequently. He moved to Cape Cod, Mass., when his parents divorced when he was a child.
Houston’s aunt, Catherine Mann, of San Jose, said she is making preparations to travel to Houston’s home in Virginia so she can be with his family for upcoming services.
Houston’s primary home was in Virginia with his wife, Meiling, and their three children, a 2-year-old boy, an 11-year-old girl, and 17-year-old son who just graduated from high school and is preparing to go to college.
Mann said that Houston’s duties as a Navy SEAL made him travel frequently, and he had completed tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, but that when he was home he was a loving husband and father.
“I could tell when I was around them that he was a good husband and father,” Mann said.
Mann said that Houston knew he wanted to be a SEAL when he was only 8 or 9 years old. She speculated that might be because of his uncle, who was in the Navy.
Living on Cape Cod, Houston swam frequently, she said, and would emerge from the water with a knife between his teeth. “What are you doing?” his family would ask him, and he would respond, “I’m training.”
“That’s a big deal, to know what he wanted to do as a kid and aspire to do it, and to be really good at it,” Mann said.
She said that in his time off, he loved riding motorcycles, and that he had a fun-loving personality but that he took his work very seriously.
“He loved what he was doing, and did it well obviously because he rose in the ranks so quickly,” she said.
Navy SEALs are an elite group tasked with special military operations. SEALs must undergo extensive and rigorous training.
Among the 38 killed Saturday, 25 were U.S. Special Operations forces, including Navy SEALS.
Another Navy SEAL who died in the attack also had Bay Area ties. Twenty-nine-year-old Darrik Benson grew up in the Napa County community of Angwin. He is survived by his wife, Kara, and their 3-year-old son.
The incident was the deadliest single incident since the war in Afghanistan started in 2001.
The Chinook helicopter was fired on by insurgents using a rocket-propelled grenade while they were on a mission targeting a Taliban leader in eastern Afghanistan.
Their passing has been mourned throughout the country, and has prompted condolences from U.S. and world leaders.
President Barack Obama expressed his admiration for the soldiers killed in action during a speech on the economy Monday.
“Their loss is a stark reminder of the risks that our men and women in uniform take every single day on behalf of their county,” the president said. “Day after day, night after night, they carry out missions like this in the face of enemy fire and grave danger.”
On Tuesday, the president attended ceremony at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to honor those lost in the crash as their remains were returned to the United States.
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