MG(R) Charles Henry Chase


Excerpts of biographical data compiled and written by Ned Gee from the March 1982 issue of The Assembly, the publication of the Association Of Graduates, United States Military Academy, West Point.

Charles Henry Chase
No 9724
Class of 1933
14 Aug 1910 - 12 Mar 1981

Major General Charles H. Chase, affectionately known as "Harpo" by his classmates died at 0400 on 12 March 1981. The cause of death was cancer; the place was Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. Thus, changed ranks, one of the most popular and beloved members of the class of 1933.

Charlie graduated on 13 June, 1933 well above the middle of his class, and selected Infantry as his branch of service. He and thirteen classmates were then assigned to the 5th Infantry Regiment, then stationed at posts in Portland Harbor, Portland Maine.

Upon graduation from the Infantry Advanced Course at Ft Benning, Georgia in 1937, Charlie was ordered to the 38th Infantry Regiment in Ft Douglas, Utah. After a relatively short tour at Ft Douglas, he was ordered to the Philippines. He was initially assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 57th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, Petit Barracks, Zamboanga, located on the island of Mindanao. One year later he was reassigned to Ft McKinley on Luzon where the remainder of the 57th was located. He sailed from the Philippines in September of 1941 on the last troop transport to depart the Philippines before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

With the outbreak of World War II, Charlie volunteered for parachute training. He was accepted immediately, and this marked a distinct turning point in his career. From this point on, he was one of the primary leaders in, and proponents of, airborne warfare in our country.

After completing jump qualifications at Ft Benning in March of 1942, Charlie soon joined the 101st Airborne as Executive Officer of the 506th Parachute Infantry. This was the initial cadre, with the regiment being formed at Camp Toombs in Toccoa, Georgia. The Regimental Commander was Robert F. Sink, then a colonel. Together, he and Charlie made a formidable team. The regiment came to be know as the "FIVE O SINK" and the staff dubbed Charlie as "Uncle Charley" for as one put it, his kindness, unfailing courage and his tart New England humor. This team remained together through the Battle of the Bulge.

Charlie parachuted with his outfit into the Normandy Beachhead in the dark, early hours of 6 June 1944, several hours prior to the beach assaults.. The resistance was fierce and the situation confusing to say the least. He fought across France and later parachuted into Holland. He fought with the "FIVE O SINK" in the snow at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. The 506th Parachute Infantry's World War II History described Charlie as "Regimental XO. Fine sense of humor. Ne plus Ultra.. Soldier, diplomat, gentleman" A soldier of the regiment described Charlie thirty years later as "That thread that ran through the unit and bound us together." One of his officers wrote "…of his many badges and decorations, it seem miraculous that a man who exposed himself as fearlessly, and as far forward on the battlefield, as he frequently did, should not wear a Purple Heart."

At the conclusion of the Battle of the Bulge, then Major General Maxwell D. Taylor, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division, selected Charlie to become his Division G3. He remained in this job through the seizure of Berchtesgaden. Charlie then commanded the 506th Parachute Regiment until it was deactivated in December, 1945. Afterwards, he was transferred to the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft Bragg for about one year.

In January 1947, Charlie began a six year period in the academic world, beginning with a student tour at the Armed Forces Staff College. This was followed by a three year assignment as an instructor with the airborne battalion at The Infantry School, Ft Benning, Georgia. As a student again, Charlie then attended the Army War College for one year. He wound up this academic period of his career with a two year faculty assignment at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

Charlie arrived in Korea in the summer of 1953 and assumed command of the 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. The following May, he became the G2 of the Eighth Army-Korea, and remained in this position until ordered back to the Pentagon in October 1954. At the Pentagon he was assigned to the intelligence staff in the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

January 1956 was a month filled with great excitement and joy for Charlie. The 101st Airborne Division was designated as the test organization for the new Pentomic Division. Charlie was assigned as Assistant Division Commander and promoted to the rank of brigadier general. He was back with his great love, the 101st Airborne! In July 1957 he moved from Ft Campbell, Kentucky to Ft Bragg, North Carolina, to become Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff, XVIII Airborne Corps.

From 1959 to 1961, Charlie was Chief, United States Military Advisory Group, Cambodia. This was a very critical time for our country in this part of the world, as the big build-up of Viet Cong forces in the Delta Region gained momentum. Charlie discovered this when his regular weekly truck convoys were fired upon as the attempted to bring food, mail and supplies from Saigon to the United States contingent in Phnom Penh. Thereafter, the necessities were airlifted.

After Cambodia, Charlie returned to Ft Benning in July of 1961 to command the 2nd Infantry Division and get his second star. At this time the mission of the Division was changed from a training unit and ordered to prepare for reinforcement of combat units in Europe. An intensive training program was instituted, with extended field exercises, in order to move the Division into a state of combat readiness.

In September of 1962, General Paul Adams, USMA 1929, Commanding General, United States Strike Command, selected Charlie as his Chief of Staff. General Adams highly praised Charlie's work and stated that he would not agree to Charlie's transfer to any other command unless it would result in a third star for him. Unfortunately, General Adams was overruled and Charlie was ordered to Fontainebleau, France, in July 1964, as Deputy Chief of Staff and acting Chief of Staff, Allied Forces, Central Europe.

Charlie's last active duty job was in Heidelberg, Germany. He arrived there in December 1966 and for three months was Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence, Headquarters, United States Army, Europe and Seventh Army. His classmate Jimmy Polk, was in command at the time and in April moved Charlie into the Chief of Staff job where he continued to perform his duties loyally, efficiently and effectively until his statutory retirement in June 1968.

During his 39 years of service, Charlie was recognized many time for his outstanding feats of heroism and leadership on the fields of battle. Among his awards were the Distinguished Service Medal; Silver Star Medal; Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster; Bronze Star Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters; Combat Infantryman's Badge; European-African-Middle East Campaign Medal with four stars for Normandy, Rhineland, Central Europe and Ardennes-Alsace, with arrowheads for the Normandy and Netherlands airborne assaults; Knight Fourth Class Military Order of Wilhelm (Netherland); Belgian Croix de Guerre with Palm; French Croix de Guerre with Palm; Officer of the Order of the Crown (Belgium); Order of the Military Merit ULCHI with Silver Star (Korea); Distinguished Unit Citation with Oak Leaf Cluster; Belgian Fourragere; Netherlands Orange Lanyard and the Master Parachutist's Badge with two Stars.

Charlie was a scholar in the truest sense of the word. During active duty, Charlie had done graduate work at the University of Utah and George Washington University. In his retirement he returned to George Washington and earned his Master of Science degree in 1969. Following his completion at GWU, he moved to Satellite Beach, Florida where he accepted a Lecturer's position at Florida Institute of Technology. He later became a Professor of Management Science and held this position through the completion of the fall semester 1980 when he was forced to resign because of illness.

Charlie fought the good fight against his disease for two years and maintained his wonderful sense of humor, priceless wit and bright smile until the end. In the hours before his death, as he drifted from his family, he lapsed into memories of battles in the snow at Bastogne. Truly a remarkable man!

At 1330 hours on Tuesday, 17 March 1981, more than one hundred of Charlie's relatives and friends gathered in the Post Chapel at Patrick Air Force Base for a memorial service. At exactly the same time, accompanied by family and an Honor Guard of officers of the future, Charlie was laid to rest in the beautiful cemetery at his beloved West Point, while snow fell gently on his grave.

Thanks to Chris Walker, grand-nephew of MG(R) Charles H. Chase, for submitting this obituary.





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