Matt Houseal

Dr. Houseal
Above, the small photo from this Herald-Palladium (St. Joseph, MI) obituary.
Matt grew up in St. Joseph (population 8,365), a town in southwest Michigan
on the Lake Michigan shore.

Doctor (Major) Matthew Philip Houseal of Amarillo was one of 5 servicemen killed in Baghdad on 11 May 2009, when a U. S. soldier opened fire at a Combat Stress Clinic. Matt normally worked at a mental health center in Amarillo, and as an Army reservist, he had volunteered for Iraq duty. He was on a short tour to assist in the Combat Stress Center on Camp Liberty as a reservist with the 55th Medical Group. He had been expected to redeploy in June.

Matt was 54 when he was killed. He graduated from the University of Michigan medical school in 1981 and initially set up a private practice in western Michigan. Finding this life a bit dull, he joined the Navy as a fighter jet aviator. He completed a residency in psychology in 1990. Between October and December 1990 he was the physician at Palmer Station. He was really curious about the seasonal psychological effects of wintering over, so when the opportunity arose he ended up as the w/o physician at Pole in 1991.

is there a doctor in the house
Matt is standing in the center in this inset from the 1991 Pole winterover photograph.

He leaves behind a wife and seven children, to whom he was extremely devoted. There are a number of Amarillo and national news articles covering this tragedy, but this one from the Amarillo Globe-News (archive) is rather comprehensive, and includes commentary from one of his fellow winterovers, Mike O'Neill: "He was the only person who didn't wear the large, bulky red parkas the others relied on to stay warm. Houseal always wore an Army green jacket - with many layers beneath it." That is how you see Matt in the above photograph. Matt's cousin John also worked at Palmer Station in the early 1990s.

My thanks to friends...Dennis O'Neill, the 1991 Pole winter station manager, for originally bringing this to my attention...and also Dave Gallas and Al Oxton for spreading the word to the Antarctic community. Dave, who wintered at Palmer Station in 1989, is working in Baghdad, less than 2 miles away from the tragic killing of his old friend.

Matt's body was returned to this country, and the funeral was held at 1000 CDT Tuesday 19 May 2009 at Saint Ann's Catholic Church in Canyon, Texas, just south of Amarillo. We fellow Palmerites and Polies were represented at the funeral by Robert (Fred) Frederick, the 1992 Palmer Station winter site manager, as well as Al Oxton, who wintered at Palmer Station in 1990 and 1992 and worked with Matt.

Here is a page of coverage, commentary, and photos from Al Oxton.

Cards go to:
Luzma Houseal and Family
13491 Halsey Trail
Amarillo TX 79118

Memorial contributions are requested to a benefit fund for his minor children at:
Amarillo National Bank c/o Dr. Houseal's minor children
410 S. Taylor
Amarillo, TX 79101

The above page was originally written in 2009 at the time of the funeral. But...imagine my surprise in March 2016 when I heard from a cousin of Matt's, who wrote me: "My name is Sayer Houseal. I was a carpenter at Pole this summer...My dad's cousin, Matt Houseal, was the winterover physician at Pole in 90-91. In the picture, he is the second on the right in the back row, wearing his green Army jacket. Matt is no longer living, as he was killed in Iraq at Camp Liberty in 2009 during the attack by the American soldier."

Below, the photo of Sayer in the galley, holding the 1991 winterover photo.

Sayer with the 1991 winterover photo
Sayer already has an offer to return to Pole in 2016-17.