This is Carolina: 89-year-old veteran is Chick-Fil-A celebrity

TIC: Houston at Chick Fil A

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A video taken of a Surfside Beach Chick-Fil-A employee has now been seen over 22,000 times.

In the video, a man approached the worker, who was cleaning a table, asking why he was spending his ‘golden years’ doing so. That employee turned out to be 89-year-old Houston Blancett, a World War II veteran, who enjoys going to work every day.

As I was eating lunch I saw this older gentleman walking around the seating area dumping trays and cleaning tables. He would wipe each table down with baby wipes not missing a spot. I kept admiring him realizing he was probably part of a generation that is fading away quickly in this country "The Greatest Generation." So many thoughts raced through my mind watching him work wanting to know about his life's journey. Sadly when I asked the Manager about the old man he had no idea of his past. I finally had the courage to approach him and give him a little Marine love thanking him for his service. 89yr old Mr Houston fought the Germans in WWII then became a minister for 50yrs. Now he's cleaning tables and picking up people's trash in Chick-fil-A at 89yrs old. God bless you Mr Houston and thank you for your service and kindness today during my lunch. I challenge many of you out there to stop and shake the hands of our heroes and thank them for their service. This country was built on their backs. I guarantee you'll both leave with a smile on your face, Semper Fi ❤

Posted by Richard Caruso on Friday, November 2, 2018

“What’s the number one question people ask you?” WMBF anchor Meredith Helline asked Blancett.

“How old ya are,” he replied, laughing.

Monday thru Friday you can catch Blancett filling the condiment containers, cleaning tables, and conversating guests. But his story began in Alabama.

“I went into the service when I was 16-years-old. I figured out what day I’d have to be, the month I’d have to be born to be 18-years-old. That was at the end of World War II,“ Blancett said of how he got in the Army underage. He stretched the truth, he said.

When asked why he wanted to join the Army before 18, he said because of his two brothers.

“The war was going on. I had a brother that was in the service at the time, and he stayed in for 23 years. I had my oldest brother that served early when I was just a baby in the Calvary. It was really the Calvary, they had horses and everything back then.”

Blancett was sent to Fort McClellan and then to Mississippi, Texas for heavy artillery training.

“The tumbleweed was blowing and I’m used to Alabama, and the hills and green trees, and I thought ‘what have I done?’” he recalled, laughing.

Blancett said he was training in Texas for 16 weeks before going to North Carolina for deportation. He was sent to France and was happy.

The war was basically over in Europe at the time but was still very active in the South Pacific, Blancett explained.

He drove an ambulance as a medic in France and recalled riding in the train’s boxcar in hay for transportation and being in a C-47 with engine failure on the way to Germany. They survived, and he stayed in Europe in three years with the Army before returning to Alabama.

But, besides the traveling, one thing sticks in Blancett’s mind about his time in the military. “As a child, I had a speech impediment when I went in the army it was murder. I couldn’t talk! When they did roll call they called my name and they said ‘Blancett.’ I couldn’t say anything! And that sergeant would chew me up and say ‘didn’t they teach you how to talk in Alabama?’”

He said speech impediments weren’t recognized back then, and he worked hard to fix it. Little did he know, the young man with the speech impediment found his calling as a pastor.

“I can’t talk, I have trouble talking I said I do not want to be a preacher. I could not be a preacher. But I couldn’t get away from it. So in 1951, I believe it was, I got saved and the Lord called me to preach. In ‘54 I started pastoring,” Blancett said.

He said the 55th chapter of Isaiah is his favorite to preach from, and the message ‘why snack if you can have a buffet?’ is another favorite saying.

Blancett pastored at Church of God in Guntersville, Ala.

During his 65 years of pastoring, he said he was blessed with a wife and two children. His daughter is still in Alabama, and her husband pastors there, he said.

His wife passed away in 2010. His son, which is why Blancett now lives in the Grand Strand, passed away unexpectedly in Feb. of last year. Blancett said it was tough.

But his son played a role in his life today.

“I said I never want to get married, I don’t want to get used to another woman’s ways, I don’t want to get married. I had over 59 years, a great life. My wife and I we never had problems,” Blancett said he told his son before he passed.

But, Blancett said one day a few years ago he woke up thinking of an old friend named Muriel. He reconnected with her.

Blancett, who claims to not like to talk on the phone, said he talked with her over an hour. About two months later they were married. Blancett was 88 at the time.

Muriel and Blancett were having lunch at Chick-Fil-A last spring when he first thought of a job at the restaurant.

“Zack, the general manager here, he walked by and I stopped him and started talking to him. And I asked him I said ‘do you all hire people my age?” he said well, yeah. Put yourself an application in so I did!” He was hired.

“I love the people. I love the people here, the customers here, I have a lot of people…it draws the question at my age…intrigues people. To see people out here my age doing this. It gives me a chance to meet people, to talk to them. I don’t preach to people, I don’t judge people. They’ll ask me why or how am I doing this. And I said I’m a blessed man!”

Copyright 2019 WMBF. All rights reserved.