Charles Myers was born and grew up in the Panama Canal Zone in Central America in 1933. At 21 he enlisted in the U.S. Army on May 17, 1954 under agreement between the U.S. and Panama.
After basic at Fort Dix, N.J. he took training in administration and found himself serving in Zweibrueken, Germany with the 3rd Infantry Division. His job was to interview Spanish speaking U.S. troops mostly from Puerto Rico. He would get them assigned to jobs the division needed filled.
“I was only a private, but I interviewed boat loads of soldiers who were coming to Germany. I was the only Spanish speaking interviewer the 3rd Army had,” Myers recalled 50 years later. “I served with the 1st Replacement Battalion, 525th Replacement Company in Germany.”
He was good at what he did. While stationed in Germany working as an administrator, Myers received commendations for: “Solder of the Week,” “Soldier of the Month,” “Soldier of the Year,” and “Command Soldier of the Year.”
Myers returned to Panama in 1956 at the completion of his two-year hitch. By this time he was a sergeant and decided to re-up. He was sent back to Germany to his old unit he had served with during his first European tour of duty.
At the completion of his second tour in 1966 he had made Warrant Officer and was headed to Vietnam. In December 1967 Myers was reassigned to Dautieng, Vietnam.
“On July 4, 1968 sappers invaded our camp with satchel charges trying to blow up our artillery,” he said. “All of a sudden enemy rockets started coming in and we could hear these booms from satchel charges.”
Myers was the senior personnel Non Commissioned Officer with Headquarters Battery 2nd of the 77th Artillery.
“We were being bombarded. This attack was for real so being the senior NCO I gave the order to defend the berm around our camp. We all moved out with our rifles. When the shooting was all over I drove around the berm in a Jeep and checked things out,” he said.
“We sustained six KIAs (Killed in Action) during the fire fight,” Myers noted. “I was the one who had to identify the bodies of our soldiers and write the reports.
“After that I decided to check all the bunkers to make sure no one was in them who was KIA or missing. While going from bunker to bunker I saw this figure in front of me that night. I asked him in Vietnamese who he was,” he said. “He told me he was the Vietnamese interpreter.
“After I identified him as the interpreter, I told him I was fighting this war for him and he was in the bunker asleep,” Myers added. “I told him to report to me daily from then until I shipped home. I would make sure he had a daily assignment and did it.”
Another concern Myers had with Vietnam was the reputation some of the American troops got while serving over there.
“A number of American troops were charged with being ‘Baby Killers’ by people back in the Sates. They were charged with atrocities they didn’t commit,” he said. “It was ‘Charley’ (the enemy) who went through the villages at night and killed entire families because the man of the house refused to fight for them. A lot of the atrocities we were charged with weren’t committed by Americans, but this information didn’t make the papers in the U.S.”
Unlike a lot of returning veterans, Myers said he had no problem with civilians in the U.S. when he came back to Fort Ord, Calif. After ‘Nam he was assigned as a personnel officer at Fort Mead, Va.
“I worked for the 12th Investigative Division at Meade,” he said. “I served a second tour in Vietnam beginning in 1969. It was considerably less eventful then my first tour.”
Myers returned to the U.S. and was stationed at Fort Dix, N.J.
“I always wanted to wind up my military career working for the Inspector General’s Office,” he said. “I knew the Inspector General and his whole family because he was from Panama.
After lobbying his battalion colonel at length Myers got his wish. He went to work for the I.G at Fort Dix.
“I did all kinds of investigations for the I.G. I investigated the engineering operation at Dix, I did one on noise abatement on the post and another investigation was done on the mess hall and on and-on,” he said.
After 20 years of service, Myers retired from the Army on May 31, 1974. After two decades in the military he went to work for the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
After he retired from his civilian job, Myers and his wife, Castalia, moved to Port Charlotte and had a home he had built.
Myers’ greatest service to the U.S. military may have been four of the five children the couple had.
Charles Jr., Edward and Carla are all graduates of the United States Naval Academy. Alvaro served 15 years in the Army and reached the rank of staff sergeant. Then there is Carmen who is a retired teacher.
In 1979 Charles was a defensive end on Navy’s football team. His younger brother, Edward, was a running back for Navy that same year.
“Edward scored 278 yards against Army in the Army-Navy Game in ’79. In sports he was a three-letter man in wrestling, track and football. Edward eventually played for the Atlanta Falcons football team,” his father explained. “When he retired from the service Edward was a major in the Marine Corps. He went to work for an Atlanta bank.
“Charles retired from the service as a commander in the Navy after 22 years of service,” his father said. “Carla is currently serving as a commander aboard the helicopter landing craft Makin Island out of San Diego.”
Name: Charles Leslie Myers
D.O.B: 24 March 1933
Hometown: Colon, Panama
Currently: Port Charlotte, Fla.
Entered Service: 17 May 1954
Discharged: 31 May 1974
Rank: Chief Warrant Officer W2
Unit: 1st Replacement Battalion, 525th Replacement Company
Commendations: Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal (4 awards), Bronze Star Medal (3 Awards), National Defense Service Medal (2 awards), German Occupation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Meritorious Unit Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal
This story was first printed in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Thursday, July 21, 2011 and is republished with permission.
Click here to search Veterans Records and to obtain information on retrieving lost commendations.
Click here to view the War Tales fan page on FaceBook.
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be republished without permission. Links are encouraged.