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James W. Houck
VADM James W. Houck.jpg
Vice Admiral James W. Houck, USN (Ret.)
41st Judge Advocate General of the Navy
Born 18 April 1958
Place of birth Pittsburgh, PA
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service - 2012
Rank Vice Admiral
Commands held Judge Advocate General of the Navy
Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Navy
Awards Navy Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit (5)[1]
Other work Distinguished Scholar in Residence, The Pennsylvania State University – The Dickinson School of Law
Vice Admiral James W. Houck is a retired United States Navy vice admiral. He served as the 41st Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the United States Navy from 14 Aug. 2009[2] to 20 July 2012.[3]

Naval careerEdit

Following graduation from the United States Naval Academy, Houck qualified as a Surface Warfare Officer aboard the destroyer USS Caron (DD 970). He then entered the Navy’s Law Education Program and graduated from the University of Michigan Law School. He later earned a Master of Laws (International and Comparative Law) from the Georgetown University Law Center. Houck served from 2006–2009 as the Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Navy (DJAG) and Commander, Naval Legal Service Command. As DJAG, Houck served as the Deputy Department of Defense Representative for Ocean Policy Affairs (REPOPA). Before his appointment to flag rank, he served as special assistant for Legal and Legislative Matters to the secretary of the Navy and later as special counsel to the Chief of Naval Operations. He also served as the senior staff judge advocate for the Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command/U.S. Atlantic Fleet as well as the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain. In command, he served as commanding officer, Naval Legal Service Office, North Central. Houck’s other assignments include service in the Office of the Legal Counsel to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Navy Office of Legislative Affairs, and in the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, both as executive assistant to the JAG and as special assistant for Transformation, the JAG Corps’ lead strategic planner. He began his legal career first as a trial counsel (prosecutor) and then as a defense counsel at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.

After retirementEdit

After retirment from the Navy, Houck joined The Pennsylvania State University – The Dickinson School of Law (Penn State Law) as the Distinguished Scholar in Residence. He was recently named the interim dean of the law school.


Houck’s personal decorations include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal (two awards), the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit (five awards), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), the Navy Commendation Medal (two awards) and the Navy Achievement Medal.

Personal lifeEdit

Houck currently lives in State College, PA with his family.


External linksEdit

Military offices
Preceded by
Bruce E. MacDonald
41st Judge Advocate General of the Navy
2009 – 2012
Succeeded by
Nanette M. DeRenzi

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