Charles Setzer
Charles Setzer

Charles Setzer

AFRH-W Resident Highlight – Charles Setzer
By Christine Baldwin, Librarian

Charles Setzer was born in North Carolina. He grew up across the street from a U.S. Marine and was very impressed with him. On the Monday after Pearl Harbor, at the back of the school bus, Charles and his friends discussed which branch of service they were going to join. Charles picked the Marines, but was too young to enlist. So as soon as he graduated from high school, he went to sign up. Basic training was at Parris Island, South Carolina and no slack was given to the recruits. This was no problem for Charles, since he felt personally involved when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He then went to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where as it turned out, the last Marine unit was being formed for World War II. This was the H Company of the 3rd Batallion of the 29th regiment of the 6th Marine division. They were first sent to Guadalcanal, but the fighting was over when they arrived. However on Easter Sunday (April 1) of 1945, they landed at Okinawa for that famous battle. Fortunately, Charles was not hurt. After that, he was fully expecting to go home. But shortly after, during an inspection, the general stopped in front of him and asked “Are you prepared to live in the field?” Charles’s response was “Yes sir, looking forward to it, sir.”  So instead of going home, he was sent to China. Apparently, there were about 80,000 Japanese soldier prisoners that needed to be taken back to Japan. So along with the U.S. Navy and their LSTs, Charles spent the next seven months doing this job. Finally sent back home, he re-enlisted at the U.S. Naval Gun Factory (Navy Yard), Washington, DC.
           
During these five years, Charles had never been home for Christmas, but on the sixth year, he not only made it home; he met his future wife, Sybil. When they got married, she promised to be a good Marine wife, though she knew nothing about military life and he promised to be a good civilian husband, after he retired from the Corps. Charles retired after twenty years from the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton, California. 

Charles’s second career was as the Director of Auxiliary Services at Gaston College, North Carolina where he was a college recruiter, supervised the running of the bookstore, oversaw the post office, was the Veteran’s Affair Officer in charge of monitoring the GI Bill, and even taught vocational classes. He retired from this job in 1985, but his wife wanted to work another five years, so Charles’s third career was having an apple orchard and selling farm equipment. He also got a hobby making and flying Ultralight planes. The plane arrived in a box and had no manual, so he literally learned to assemble it and fly by “the seat of his pants.”  Also during this time, he and Sybil were able to travel. They made it to 73 countries and went on 28 cruises. Sybil wanted to see the World War II sites, so Charles took her to Guadalcanal and showed her where they had slept in a tent. He also took her to China and showed where he had worked with the return of the Japanese soldiers to Japan. They had three children; a son who went to the Naval Academy, a daughter who taught at North Carolina State and Chapel Hill, and another son who worked with Duke Power. Charles knew about the AFRH-W because of the .50 -taken off his pay, and came to us earlier this year.