In February of 2020, the NFM TV crew entered the home of Mike and Lisa Houck as we honored their fallen son, Sergeant Eric Houck with our NFM Salute. Eric, a Baltimore native, was 25 when he was gunned down in Afghanistan on June 10, 2017. The pain of losing their son is always with them. It’s just a different kind of pain as the days go on. In this exclusive follow-up, we check in with his Gold Star parents 16 months after our first meeting and once again honor Eric with our July 2021 NFM Salute.

Full Transcript is Below:

– Welcome into our July, 2021 NFM Salute. I’m your host, Greg Sher. The last time we spoke to our guest Mike Houck, it was February of 2020. Back then, Mike welcomed us into his home in Perry Hall, Maryland, where we honored his son, fallen Sergeant, Eric Houck who died in June of 2017 in Afghanistan. Mike, we really appreciated you welcoming us into your home that day and of course, we really appreciate you now taking time again to let us know how you’re doing as we honor Eric once again with our July 2021 NFM Salute. How are you?

– Doing well Greg.

– A lot has changed since we sat on the couch, you and me and your lovely wife, Lisa and your daughter, Jessica, you sold your home in Perry Hall, Maryland and you got a U-haul and you headed out west. Tell us where you are and why you did it.

– [Mike] With Eric passing, I mean, there’s just a lot of memories in that house and we decided we wanted to change, we wanted to do something different. I have one sister, she passed away I think about eight years ago and she had five children. Those children in turn have had children, gotten married and they are all here in Oregon. Also my mother lives here in Oregon and my aunts and uncles and my cousins. Lisa and I talked about it and we decided this was where we wanted to go.

– Before you headed out west, you were given quite a sendoff and a departing gift as a bridge right near Perry Hall where Eric attended high school was named in his honor. Also another fallen soldier who attended Perry Hall, Christopher Moudry. There was a whole ceremony. What did that mean to you?

– [Mike] That to me is the greatest honor that they could bestow. And it is just so important to us just for him to be remembered by people in the community.

– What is the difference like for you and Lisa and your family four years after losing Eric compared to when we saw you last?

– Well, obviously it’s something that you never get over. Maybe the emotions don’t come to the surface as much as they had previously. We’ve come to terms with the situation, become part of our life. It’s part of who we are. I am more than happy to talk to anybody that will listen about Eric. And I mean, he’s my son, but he is, he was a tremendous man.

– Yeah, he really was. And how are his children doing?

– His children are doing extremely well. Obviously, again, they have the underlying situation with their father and Samantha with her husband. They’re coping with life and she’s doing extremely well. And in turn, the children are doing extremely well.

– I thought about you on Memorial Day this year.

– I appreciate it.

– What is Memorial Day like for you?

– Every is Memorial Day for me. The only difference is that a lot of people reach out, soldiers he had served with, friends, family. I mean, there’s just an outpouring of respect and gratitude.

– [Greg] Well, Mike, we have football season coming up. Talk about the bond around the NFL that you guys had.

– I was born in Philly so that’s the team I kind of latched on to. Eric growing up, I think he rooted for every Super Bowl winner for several years. That was his team the next year. And then finally one day he came up to me and he said he wanted to get an Eagles jersey. He was probably about 12, I guess. And I said, “Eagles”? He goes, “Yeah”. He goes, “If I live here, I might as well root for the Eagles.” It was just a thing for me and him that we really connected on.

– [Greg] You and I shared a very special moment too. I’m not sure you quite know the gravity of what it meant to me when you and I were done talking the last time around and I interviewed you and felt so close to your family so instantly and there was a picture up on a wall in your house and I really loved the picture. It was so beautiful. You described to me that you’re a photographer and that you enjoy taking photos and I just really was taken aback by the beauty of that picture. And as I left your house and was putting my stuff in my car, you came running out with that picture and you gave it to me and I put it over my son’s bed. I got a chance to talk to him about Eric and I got a chance to talk to him about the sacrifice that Eric made. And so in that way, you not only touched me, but you were able to touch my son too. And I remain very grateful that you gave that to me.

– I did it out of gratitude for what you did for us.

– I’ve been told Oregon is just so beautiful. So I’m sure you took that camera with you and we’re sharing some scenes right now of some of the, just beautiful pictures that you took out there. Are you enjoying the fresh air out there? Is it a little bit different than when you get, that smoggy air on the east coast?

– This place is just gorgeous. I have a hike that’s 10 minutes from my house that is probably one of the top five hikes I’ve ever done in my life.

– So as you’re aware of and our audience is aware of, at the end of these things, we donate $2,500 to the charity of your choice. And this time around, Mission 22 is where you’d like us to earmark those funds. Tell us why.

– Eric, he didn’t make it back, but a lot of guys do. And they come back physically but mentally they’re not where they should be. Some guys, they just can’t cope with it, some guys are not getting the help they need, be it them being too proud to say they need help or the resources aren’t available for the help and Mission 22, their goal is to get every service member that’s in that position where they need to be.

– [Greg] Well, Mike, we really appreciate your time again on NFM TV and thank you for allowing us to once again honor Eric. We send our love to you and to Lisa and to Jessica and your whole family. And once again, we thank your family for the sacrifice that Eric made. He will forever be in our thoughts and our prayers.

– And I do appreciate. That’s very important to us Greg. And thank you and everybody there and, and it means the world to us.

– That’s Mike Houck, I’m Greg Sher from NFM TV. That’s our NFM salute for the month of July 2021. We’ll see you again soon.